Palestinian President: Israeli Opposition Will Not Stand in Way of Unity Government

Abbas spokesman responds to Israel's announcement it will not negotiate with Palestinian government supported by Hamas

Women hold Palestinian flags as they celebrate after rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation deal, in the central Gaza Strip October 12, 2017.
IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/REUTERS

Succeeding at internal reconciliation is the Palestinians' supreme interest, regardless of Israel's statements, President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman said Tuesday evening. He spoke shortly after Israel announced that it would not negotiate with a Palestinian government that is supported by Hamas.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, Abbas' spokesman, said that continuing efforts at reconciliation serves the Palestinian people's expectations of unity and independence.

Rival political parties Hamas and Fatah signed an accord to unite on Thursday in Cairo, bringing together the governments of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip with the Fatah-headed Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Hamas agreed to hand over administrative control of Gaza, including the key Rafah border crossing, a decade after seizing the enclave in a civil war.

Abu Rudeineh said that the Cairo accord was aimed at ending Palestinian division. No Israeli position would change the official Palestinian position, he said, since a national unity government had existed in the past, uninfluenced by any external elements, including Israel.

Izzat al-Rishq, a member of Hamas’ Political Bureau, said, “Israel’s attempt to torpedo the reconciliation by setting its own conditions proves that Israel is concerned about the reconciliation and its implications.” He added that no one could set conditions for the PA on the matter and that it must respond decisively that it is continuing steps towards unity, undeterred by Israel’s aggressive threats.

The international community, including the U.S. administration, welcomed the news of reconciliation, Abu Rudeineh added. He said that the PA's planned return to the Gaza Strip and taking responsibility for it had also been well received.

The spokesman said that no Israeli position would change Palestinian determination to establish an independent Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.