Palestinian ‘unity’ must include recognizing Israel, disarming Hamas, Netanyahu says

“Any reconciliation between the PA and Hamas must include honoring international agreements and the Quartet condition, first and foremost among them, recognizing Israel and disarming Hamas,” the Israeli leader stated.

Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas reached a preliminary agreement Thursday that could return the Gaza Strip to Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’ control and ease a decade-old Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the coastal territory, but past attempts at unity have foundered on key issues that remain unresolved.

The deal was announced at a news conference in Cairo, where negotiators have been meeting, and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said it was reached under “generous Egyptian auspices,” without elaborating. Egypt has been eager to show progress in unity talks, and both Palestinian factions face pressure to resolve their differences.

The sides have tried, and failed, to reach reconciliation several times before, but even with such skepticism Palestinians celebrated Thursday’s announcement.

“This is the dream and the ambition of every patriotic and honorable Palestinian, to reach unification,” said Ramallah resident Jawad Abu Shaikha.

In Gaza, residents took to the streets to rejoice. “I hope there will be implementation on the ground for the issues agreed upon, because we are truly tired from the division and poverty,” said Waed Mesameh.

A senior Palestinian official said Abbas might visit Gaza in the coming weeks, depending on the successful implementation of the agreement. The official spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the formal announcement.

Abbas hasn’t set foot in Gaza since 2007, when Hamas, his main ideological rival, seized the territory after days of factional street battles. The Hamas takeover left Abbas in control of autonomous areas in Judea and Samaria.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement, saying that “any reconciliation between the PA and Hamas must include honoring international agreements and the Quartet condition, first and foremost among them, recognizing Israel and disarming Hamas.

PM Calls for Release of Israeli Captives in Gaza

“Continuing to dig tunnels, manufacture missiles and initiate terrorist attacks against Israel are incompatible with the Quartet conditions and the efforts of the United States to renew the diplomatic process. Israel demands that these conditions be met and the immediate release of Israeli civilians Avra Mengistu and Hisham a-Said, who are being cruelly held by Hamas, and the remains of fallen IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin,” Netanyahu declared.

“As long as Hamas does not disarm and continues to call for the destruction of Israel. Israel holds it responsible for all terrorist actions originating in the Gaza Strip.

“Israel opposes any reconciliation that does not include these components.

“Israel insists that the PA not allow any base whatsoever for Hamas terrorist actions from PA areas in Judea and Samaria or from Gaza, if the PA indeed takes responsibility for its territory. Israel will monitor developments on the ground and act accordingly,” the statement concluded.

Earlier this week, Hamas named Saleh al-Arouri, the mastermind of terror attacks against Israeli civilians, as its deputy head.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff