US: Hamas must disarm to join Palestinian government

Echoing Israel’s position, US special Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt told Hamas that to participate in Palestinian rule it must renounce violence and commit to peaceful negotiations with Israel.

President Donald Trump’s special Mideast envoy said that if Hamas wants to play a role in any Palestinian government it must renounce violence against Israel and commit to peaceful negotiations with it.

Jason Greenblatt’s statement Thursday was the first American comment on the advancing reconciliation efforts between the rival Palestinian Fatah and Hamas factions, and echoed Israeli demands.

Greenblatt said Hamas must meet the international demands to recognize Israel and accept previous agreements with it. Hamas “must accept these basic requirements” to take part in government, he said.

Israel announced Tuesday it will not negotiate with a government that relies on Hamas, the terrorist organization that rules Gaza and which calls for the destruction of Israel, as long as it does not fulfill several elementary conditions, including recognizing Israel and ceasing all terrorist activity.

Hamas has always refused similar demands in the past, and both Fatah and Hamas dismissed Israel’s demands as “an unacceptable Zionist interference in Palestinian internal affairs.”

Israeli Minister Naftali Bennett welcomed Greenblatt’s “clear” statement, reiterating Israel’s position that it will not negotiate with a Palestinian government that relies on Hamas until the terror group disarms itself, recognizes Israel’s right to exist and returns the IDF fallen soldiers and Israeli civilians it holds.

Under Egyptian auspices, the Palestinian factions last week announced a preliminary agreement and have formed committees to sort out unresolved issues, most notably who will control Hamas’ massive weapons arsenal. Talks continue with Fatah.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff