A fateful crossroads: end the occupation or continue the subjugation of Palestinians
This posting has these items:
1) Ma’an news: Abbas: New govt recognizes Israel and rejects violence Abbas states Palestinian gov’t position;
2) Huff Post: Forfeiting Israel’s Reason to Exist, a painful and angry commentary from Alon Ben;
3) Daily Star, Lebanon: Why the Israeli-Palestinian talks fail, Rami Khouri on the lack of the 4 Rs (read it!) which caused the talks to fail;
4) FT: Israel halts peace talks after Palestinian unity pact Hamas-Fatah deal unifies (briefly) the fissiparous Israeli government;
5) The Telegraph:>Barack Obama blames both sides for Middle East peace talks failure; In the US, both sides is progress.
6) The Telegraph: Israel peace talks: Timeline of failure, get your dates right;
7) NY TimesIsrael Halts Talks, Citing Palestinian Unity Agreement , Jodi Rudoren sums up the state of play in her inimitably boring way;
Subjugating Palestinians, method 47, photo by Najeh Hashlamoun / APA images
Abbas: New govt recognizes Israel and rejects violence
By Ma’an news
April 26, 2014
RAMALLAH– President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday that the unity government would continue to follow previous PLO policies and that he remains willing to extend peace talks with Israel, which halted the talks in response to a Fatah-Hamas unity deal signed earlier in the week.
During a televised speech kicking off two days of PLO Central Council meetings in Ramallah, Abbas reasserted that he would be willing to extend negotiations with Israel if it pledged to freeze settlement construction and release the last round of prisoners as agreed at the beginning of the talks.
Israel has dismissed the conditions.
“The upcoming government will obey my policy,” Abbas told the PLO council. “I recognize Israel and reject violence and terrorism, and recognize international commitments.”
“Without Jerusalem there will be no negotiations,” Abbas added, pledging also that the Palestinians would never recognize Israel as a “Jewish state.”
Abbas said that the Palestinian recognized it as a state in 1993 and should not have to accept its religious identity, which has been a central Netanyahu demand.
He pointed out that no similar demand was made of Egypt or Jordan when they signed peace treaties recognizing Israel.
He applauded the efforts of US Secretary of State John Kerry, with whom Abbas said he met 40 times during the past nine months.
“He was serious and he put in a huge effort, but unfortunately without results.”
With regards to Wednesday’s reconciliation deal with Hamas, Abbas said the unity government would recognize Israel and renounce violence.
“The upcoming government will obey my policy,” he said. “I recognize Israel and reject violence and terrorism, and recognize international commitments.”
A senior Hamas official in Gaza concurred told AFP that the it was a “mostly positive” speech.
“It is not the government’s mission to take care of political issues,” Bassem Naim, an adviser to Hamas’ Gaza premier Ismail Haniyeh, said.
“It has only three main missions: unifying the Palestinian organizations, preparing for elections and reconstructing Gaza.”
Abbas spoke ahead of Palestinian crisis talks expected to focus on US peace efforts and the unity deal.
Wednesday’s PLO-Hamas deal infuriated Israel, which said it would “not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by Hamas, a terror organization that calls for the destruction of Israel,” and vowed unspecified “measures” in response.
The PLO recognized Israel’s right to exist in 1988, but say that recognizing Israel as a “Jewish state” could jeopardize the right of return for Palestinian refugees and limit the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel.
AFP contributed to this report.
A Palestinian home demolished in Beit Hanina, occupied East Jerusalem, July 2009. (Silan Dallal/ActiveStills)
Forfeiting Israel’s Reason to Exist
By Alon Ben-Meir, Huffington Post
April 23, 2014
It is a given that every Jew in and outside Israel wants to see Israel as a vibrant country: an economic powerhouse with a thriving democracy, self-confident and secure, capable of defending itself and deterring any enemy far and near from challenging its right to exist, at peace with its neighbors, respected by the international community, excelling in its humanity and caring about others, a beacon and a light unto other nations.
Yes, Israel can be all that and some, I am sure. All Israeli leaders, regardless of political leaning, believe in their heart of hearts that the country that has risen from the ashes of extinction to a glorious nation offers a refuge and a haven to every Jew, so that never again will any live at the whims and mercy of others. This is why Israel exists and what it is meant to be, and this is the only way Israel will realize its destiny.
Today Israel faces a fateful crossroads: either end the occupation, or continue the subjugation of the Palestinians and forfeit the one historic chance to become a truly free nation that can live up to the promise of its divine creation.
The imminent collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations raises the critical question: will the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ever be resolved? More than six decades of debilitating violent discord did little to usher in an agreement. The shifting reality on the ground made the prospect for a solution increasingly dimmer, more distant, and laden with ominous danger.
Continued occupation of Palestinian land slowly consumes Israel’s moral standing and physical well-being, inching it ever closer to self-destruction. Though the Palestinians are not innocent bystanders, Israel and Israel alone must now bear the burden because it is the undisputed power that can change the course of events and prevent the looming disaster.
No one knows the history of the Jews better than the Jews themselves. Persecution, segregation, expulsion and death unmatched in human history were their lot nearly everywhere. But such unspeakable historic misfortune offers no license to inflict pain, suffering and indignity onto others.
Knowing the true meaning of dehumanization, degradation and derision must give rise to the Jews’ moral values and humanity by treating the Palestinians with compassion and sensitivity. With the inevitability of coexistence and fate intertwined, what hope will be in the offing for tomorrow if not harmony and peace?
A new disaster will be waiting in the wings, obliterating the Jews’ dream to build a lasting free nation like many others, rather than live in isolation as a garrison state surrounded by fences and foes, caging itself in and drowning in an ocean of hostility and contempt.
Occupation must end not only because of its inherent injustice, as it demeans, debases and degrades the Palestinians, but because of what the occupation does to the Israelis — it discredits and disgraces Jewish heritage and changes the once-oppressed Jews into merciless, heartless oppressors. No, this is not why Israel was created.
The Jews’ historic victimhood proffers no license to victimize others. Israelis who take freedom for granted should never sleep knowing that millions of Palestinians retire at night deprived of pleasant dreams, wondering what tomorrow will bring, only to wake up still shackled and fused with anger and malice.
They want what you Israelis cherish. They want dignity, they want freedom, and they want the human rights that you so relish, but you wantonly deny them the very values you uphold so high.
To the settlers and their supporters: As you build and expand settlements, usurping Palestinian land inch by inch, you deny them their aspiration for nationhood, as they witness daily the creeping annexation, dreading what will await them tomorrow — nothing but the fear of more land to be seized.
IDF arrest Palestinian ‘rioters’ at unnamed place in West Bank. Photo by Noam Moshkovitz
You feed the Palestinians with a daily dosage of hatred and fury, but then you blame them for hating you. As the settlements strike deeper roots, you strengthen their resolve to uproot you. This is how this tragic story goes; instead of building bridges of peace, you are erecting monuments of revulsion and hate.
The onus falls squarely on the Israeli government. Netanyahu, who genuinely seeks a strong, thriving and prosperous Israel, pursues contrarian policies that deprive Israel of its potentially brilliant future. He is living in denial, never accepting, acceding or assenting to a Palestinian state.
He is an ideological zealot, driven by biblical precepts that have long since lost any relevance to today’s reality. He believes that he was divinely chosen to lead, but fails to understand that divinity placed the Palestinians inescapably and permanently side-by-side Israel.
He falsely links the country’s national security to his insatiable thirst for more Palestinian land. He remains marred in illusions and grandiose dreams, blindly crawling through dark alleys, dragging Israel ever steadily to the abyss, foolishly misleading a county and a people he is entrusted to lead.
It is understandable that Jews anywhere have a unique affinity to the state of Israel; for the world’s Jewry, Israel represents the last refuge, the sanctuary that offers a safe haven, independently determining its own fate. Hence, Israel must remain strong and powerful because they see their fate and fortune intertwined with Israel’s strength, perseverance and longevity.
But Diaspora Jewry must also understand that the occupation of Palestinian land destroys the very premise on which the state was created. Continued occupation in any form chips away the moral tenet of the country on which its very survival rests.
Yes, stand beside Israel they must, but supporting misguided policies like the blind leading the blind not only denies the Palestinians their human rights but imperils the very existence of the third commonwealth the Jews yearned for millennia, which they must never forget.
It is time for you, the Israelis, to wake up to the bitter reality you choose to ignore. The relative non-violent atmosphere and the prosperity you enjoy today is nothing but a mirage. You buy into the rhetoric of misguided leaders who are unwittingly leading you astray.
The people in this queue have walked through sewer pipes to pass from one side of the wall to the other. Pisgat Ze’ev, Jerusalem, West Bank, PS. Photo by jenniferlisa.
Your complacency is your worst enemy; it is not that the Palestinians are innocent, it is that you have the power to force a change in direction, if you only will it. The alternative to the continuing debilitating conflict is not simply continuing much of the same. It will spell disaster for Israel as the world is tuned to the Palestinian plight and condemns Israel for its intransigence and gross human rights violations.
Israelis must remember that the entire global community vehemently opposes the occupation. Israel’s national security concerns, though legitimate, have been excessively used like a smoke screen to obscure its expansionist policy which any blind person can see through.
America remains the last beacon of hope to save Israel from traveling this suicidal path. As the US deliberates its future plans about the peace process, this may well be Secretary Kerry’s last ditch effort.
Israeli leaders will be wise to remember that once the US decides that the prospect for a peace agreement remains elusive at best, it may well leave the Israelis and Palestinians to their own devices.
The Palestinians will play for time and grow stronger by sheer numbers and iron resolve, and Israel’s self-consuming policies will make it steadily weaker. Its mighty military strength will pale in comparison to the Palestinians’ inexhaustible human endurance, knowing full well that time is on their side.
History has shown that time and again.
Next, what initiative can the Israelis take to change direction in the pursuit of peace?
Alon Ben-Muir is Senior Fellow, NYU’s Center for Global Affairs
By Rami G. Khouri, The Daily Star
April 19, 2014
Patient, serious diplomacy appears to be bearing fruit in many places simultaneously this week, except in the Israel-Palestine talks that have gone on for two decades since the 1993 Oslo peace accords. It is worth exploring why this is so.
Two agreements announced Thursday comprised an American-Russian-Ukrainian-European Union understanding on how to diffuse the tensions in Ukraine, and a decision by the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to end the feud between Qatar and other members. In the ongoing talks between Iran and the P5+1 states (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) to resolve tensions over Iran’s nuclear capabilities, the parties continue to reach agreements on some of the key issues while some others remain to be hammered out in coming months.
Why is it that these three difficult situations suddenly showed progress? I do not have inside information on any of them, but my hunch based on close observation and speaking to some of the participants in the Israeli-Palestinian and Iran-P5+1 talks in recent years is simply that some key recurring Rs had a big role to play in the success of some talks and the failure of others. The Rs I refer to are realism, reciprocity, reasonableness and respect. These are largely absent from the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and it is no surprise, therefore, that they continue to flounder.
The factors of realism and reasonableness refer to the fact that negotiators do not demand the maximum that is likely impossible for one side or the other to go along with, and instead seek what is attainable and meaningful for both sides, in a manner that is mutually politically realistic.
The reciprocity and respect factors are more complex, but more important for concluding a meaningful agreement. These refer to the practice of applying the same standard of conduct to both sides in a dispute and requiring them both to make concessions or moves of equal magnitude, and more or less simultaneously. The key here is to avoid any sense of humiliation or capitulation by one side, making it possible for protagonists to preserve their sense of honor and dignity while making the reasonable and realistic moves they agree on.
The Ukraine and GCC-Qatar agreements are very broad and couched in vague language, but they have been reached in an important, symbolic first step because they did not humiliate any one party and gave all parties something of value to them.
The Iran talks, similarly, have progressed rapidly in recent months because both sides took steps that made reasonable suggestions couched in respectful terms. Specifically, Iran achieved its core goals of an acknowledgment of its continued low-level enrichment of uranium for peaceful purposes and an imminent end to sanctions and American threats of regime change. The P5+1 states achieved their goals of enrichment limits and inspections that make it impossible for Iran to surreptitiously build a nuclear bomb.
The real reason why these breakthroughs happened, I suspect, is that both sides started treating the other with more respect and with more reciprocity in the specifics of the measures that both sides would implement in a final agreement. Both sides reached a point where they could agree to the demands of the other, because the same process happened in the other direction.
This is precisely why the Palestine-Israel negotiations fail to make any similar progress. The Israeli demands from the Palestinians in areas like security, refugees and recognizing Israel as a Jewish state are so extreme that they cannot be met without totally humiliating the Palestinians. The Palestinians in turn get little respect from the Israelis or the American mediators even, who effectively ignore the core demand that the Palestinian refugee problem of 1947-1948 be acknowledged and redressed in a mutually agreeable manner.
Israel and the United States basically want to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict on the basis of territorial adjustments related to what happened in 1967. The Palestinians want to resolve the conflict on the basis of demographic and territorial changes from 1947-1948. Israel refuses to address the Zionists’ role in the events of 1947-1948 that shattered Arab-majority Palestine and exiled half its population, and only wants to discuss Israeli security within the June 1967 borders. Palestinians may look forward to some crumbs, but not much more than that. No wonder then that 20 years of negotiations have not achieved any major agreements.
The Americans and Israelis in particular could learn much from analyzing the recent trajectory of the Iran negotiations and why they suddenly achieved progress. The formula for success is very simple and reaffirmed again this week in three different contexts: act with reasonableness, realism, respect and reciprocity and you are likely to achieve the goals of all concerned. Ignore these critical elements, and you will only suffer serial failures, as has happened in the American-mediated Israeli-Palestinian talks.
Rami G. Khouri can be followed on Twitter @RamiKhouri.
By Matthew Kalman in Jerusalem, Financial Times
April 24, 2014
Israel formally declared an end to the peace talks with the Palestinians on Thursday in response to Wednesday’s announcement of a unity agreement between the Fatah-led Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas.
“Instead of choosing peace, Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas], formed an alliance with a murderous terrorist organisation that calls for the destruction of Israel,” said Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister.
”The agreement between Abu Mazen and Hamas was signed even as Israel is making efforts to advance the negotiations with the Palestinians. It is the direct continuation of the Palestinians’ refusal to advance the negotiations,” Mr Netanyahu said.
The Fatah-Hamas pact calls for the creation of a technocratic unity government to prepare for elections within six months, ending years of violence and division between the two factions.
Analysts cautioned that, despite the fanfare surrounding the deal, it remains to be seen whether it will succeed in uniting the West Bank and Gaza Strip under a new elected leadership, or go the way of previous Fatah-Hamas agreements that unravelled soon after signing.
Israel’s decision to end nine months of already faltering talks came at the end of a five-hour meeting of the security cabinet. But the failure of the negotiations could provide a short-term boost for Mr Netanyahu, who has been saved from making tough decisions that could have shattered his cabinet.
Two major coalition partners, the pro-settler Bayit Hayehudi and the liberal Yesh Atid parties, were threatening to leave Mr Netanyahu’s coalition last week over the peace process. Bayit Hayehudi said they would not tolerate the prisoner release that was a condition of the negotiations. Yesh Atid said it would leave the government unless the talks were extended beyond the April 29 deadline set nine months ago.
Now both parties look certain to remain in the government. The prisoners will not be released with the talks unlikely to resume, but Israel can blame their suspension on Mr Abbas’s decision to unite with Hamas. Yesh Atid, which did not really want to leave the coalition, can also blame the Palestinians, rather than Mr Netanyahu, for the deadlock, allowing it to stay on in government without appearing to have compromised.
“Domestically, it helps his position inside the coalition, which is mostly made up of right-of-centre parties, including the rightwing of his own Likud party, which is solidly against peace talks,” said Mitchell Barak, a pollster and political analyst who worked with Mr Netanyahu during his first term in office in the 1990s.
Mr Netanyahu has also been encouraged by the initial response to the Palestinian agreement from Washington. Earlier, US state department spokesperson Jen Psaki had called the Fatah-Hamas deal “disappointing in terms of the content as well as the timing”.
The prime minister can also cite the agreement as proof of his often-stated assertion that Mr Abbas is not interested in making the concessions required to make peace and would rather embrace Hamas and Islamic Jihad, groups regarded in Israel, Europe and the US as terrorist organisations.
“In terms of Israel’s international relations he can say ‘I told you so: Abbas didn’t want peace and was supporting terrorism and the proof is he’s got together with Hamas which is a terror organisation. It’s not because of us that the peace talks stopped, but because of the Palestinians’,” said Mr Barak.
The Obama administration refused to declare that the latest round of the peace process had finally collapsed. Jennifer Psaki, State department spokeswoman, said that US negotiators would remain in the region. Secretary of state John Kerry talked with Mr Abbas on Thursday and expected to speak again to Mr Netanyahu in the near future.
“There have been unhelpful steps taken by both parties, there have been ups and downs,” she said. “We view it as essential that both sides exercise maximum restraint and avoid escalatory steps.”
Jonathan Spyer, a researcher at the Interdisciplinary Center, a college in Herzliya, said it was too early to draw firm political conclusions. He said it was just as likely that the Fatah-Hamas deal would wither, leaving all parties back where they were.
“I don’t think it will harm or help Netanyahu’s domestic standing. We have been here before with these agreements and they were never implemented,” said Mr Spyer.
“We have a week to go until April 29 [when the talks were due to end] and I think there’s an element of brinkmanship in the Palestinian announcement. There’s a shrewd channel of thought that thinks the unity statement is part of Abbas’s own brinkmanship vis-à-vis the Americans before the official ending of this phase of talks.”
US president says Israelis and Palestinians need to pause but cautioned against hopes of an early resumption in peace talks
By Robert Tait, The Telegraph
Jerusalem–President Barack Obama delivered a grim prognosis for the early revival of stalled Middle East peace talks on Friday while blaming Israel and Palestinians equally for the collapse of the latest American-brokered initiative.
In remarks likely to irritate Israel, the US leader criticised this week’s unity pact between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Islamist Hamas movement yet minimised its importance as just one of several “unhelpful” steps that helped undermine negotiations.
Israel responded to the reconciliation deal on Thursday by breaking off talks – arguing that Mahmoud Abbas, the PA leader, had allied himself with a terrorist group dedicated to Israel’s destruction.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said he would only resume discussions if Mr Abbas cancelled the pact, which calls for the formation of a new unity government consisting of non-political technocrats within five weeks and fresh elections in six months.
Speaking during a visit to Seoul, the South Korean capital, Mr Obama said the pact was not the sole cause of the crisis in the talks – which were already close to crumbling on the run up to an April 29 deadline and lacking any agreed formula for extending them.
“The fact that recently President Abbas took the unhelpful step of rejoining talks with Hamas is just one of a series of choices that both Israel and the Palestinians have made which are not conducive to solving this crisis,” the president said.
He said the impasse suggested a need to pause before both sides could “look at the alternatives” before returning to negotiations. But he admitted that a resumption was not imminent.
“Realistically there is one door and that is the two parties getting together and making some very difficult political compromises in order to secure the future of both Israelis and Palestinians for future generations,” he said. “Do I expect that they will walk through that door next week, next month or even in the course of the next six months? No.”
Israeli officials had earlier voiced dismay that Washington had not issued stronger condemnation of the Palestinian unity deal, which a US state department spokesman had described as “troubling” and “disappointing”. Washington has said it will only recognise the new Palestinian government if it agrees to recognise Israel, renounce violence and agree to uphold existing agreements between the Israelis and the PA.
“We expect that the American statement be much more decisive and determined,” an Israeli official told Haaretz newspaper, describing the language as “insufficient” and “weak”. “The Americans need to tell Abbas that he allied himself with a terrorist group and that they cannot accept this.”
Baroness Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, praised the reconciliation deal but said the EU prioritises peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Less than two years after the launch of the US Middle East peace initiative the talks are petering out into failure
By Robert Tait, Jerusalem, The Telegraph
April 25, 2014
March 2013: President Barack Obama visits Israel and announces that John Kerry, the US secretary of state will launch a fresh peace initiative.
July 19, 2013: After a round of shuttle diplomacy, Mr Kerry that announces Israel and the Palestinians have “established a basis for final status negotiations” after a three year halt in talks.
July 29, 2013: Israeli and Palestinian negotiators meet in Washington to formally launch an American-mediated process with a nine-month deadline to reach a final agreement.
Israel halts peace talks as Hamas and Fatah strike unity deal 24 Apr 2014
Kerry reminded no peace can be reached without addressing Gaza 25 Apr 2014
Fatah and the Hamas agree unity government 23 Apr 2014
August 2013: Negotiations begins in earnest in Jerusalem, led by Tzipi Livni for Israel and Saeb Erekat for the Palestinians.
December 2013: Mr Kerry announces that a historic peace deal is “closer than in years”.
January 2014: The US secretary of state scales back his goal from concluding a final peace deal to instead reaching a “framework agreement” by the end of nine months, enabling talks to continue thereafter.
March 29, 2014: Israel fails to release fourth tranche of Palestinians prisoners, saying it would only do so if Mr Abbas agreed to extend the talks.
April 1, 2014: Mr Abbas responds by signing up to 15 international treaties in breach of a prior promise. Israel announces plans to build 700 new settler homes in East Jerusalem. Mr Kerry cancels plans to visit Mr Abbas in Ramallah.
April 23, 2014: Fatah and Hamas conclude a unity pact.
April 24, 2014: Israel suspends negotiations.
By Jodi Rudoren
April 24, 2014
JERUSALEM — The Israeli government decided on Thursday to suspend American-brokered peace talks with the Palestinians because of the agreement the Palestinians announced on Wednesday between two rival factions, one of which refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist.
After a meeting of top ministers that lasted nearly all day, Israel announced that it would freeze the negotiations until the Palestinians’ reconciliation agreement is reversed or collapses. With the Palestinian factions intending to form a new unity government in the next five weeks, Israel said it would not resume negotiations with any government backed by Hamas, the militant Islamist faction that Israel, like the United States, considers a terrorist organization.
“Whoever chooses the terrorism of Hamas does not want peace,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said in a statement circulated by his office. The statement promised unspecified retaliatory measures against the Palestinians.
The agreement between Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip, and the Palestine Liberation Organization, which is dominated by the more moderate Fatah party and governs the West Bank, “was signed even as Israel is making efforts to advance the negotiations with the Palestinians,” Mr. Netanyahu said. “It is the direct continuation of the Palestinians’ refusal to advance the negotiations.”
The peace talks, begun at American urging last summer, were far from reaching a resolution, and were due to end in five days. Secretary of State John Kerry and his peace envoy, Martin Indyk, have been working furiously to find a formula under which the parties would extend them. Mr. Kerry and President Obama have issued dire warnings that this round of talks may be the last chance for a negotiated two-state solution to the intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The peace talks were stalemated for months, and had been on the brink of collapse since April 2, when the Palestinians, frustrated by Israel’s failure to keep a promise to release a group of Palestinian prisoners, moved to join 15 international conventions in defiance of Israel. Both sides and the United States had said they wanted to keep the peace process going, but they remained far apart on the terms for doing so.
Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator in the peace talks, said Israel had “deliberately sabotaged the peace process” by halting the talks and by refusing to freeze construction of settlements in the West Bank, as the Palestinians have demanded.
“The Israeli government was given the choice between peace and settlements, but it chose settlements,” Mr. Erekat said in a telephone interview Thursday evening.
Many analysts saw Wednesday’s reconciliation deal as a ploy by President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority to press Israel into making concessions to keep the talks going. Instead, it seems to have provided Mr. Netanyahu with a pretext for walking away from them.
Mr. Abbas “basically miscalculated,” said Hillel Frisch, a professor at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University who specializes in Palestinian politics and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “They were both in it to appease the Americans, and wanted to blame each other for the failure of the talks. By moving with Hamas, they played into Israeli hands.”
After the reconciliation deal drew harsh reactions from Israel and Washington, Palestinian leaders had sought on Thursday to soften its impact on the peace process. Jibril Rajoub, a top official in Mr. Abbas’s Fatah faction, said that the new government would recognize Israel and renounce violence, meeting the conditions set by the “Quartet” of Middle East peacemakers —the United States, United Nations, Russia and the European Union —that Hamas has repeatedly rejected.
“The government of national consent that will be established, headed by Abu Mazen, will declare clearly and unequivocally that it accepts the Quartet’s conditions,” Mr. Rajoub said, using Mr. Abbas’s nickname in an interview on Israel’s Army Radio channel. “There is no cause for concern.”
Similarly, Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary of the P.L.O. executive committee, called Wednesday’s agreement “merely a first step” and said that American and Israeli reactions were “premature.”
For its part, Hamas signaled that it was drawing a distinction between its own views and those of the unity government it was joining and that there was no need for Hamas to recognize Israel.
“You don’t need organizations to recognize Israel,” Ghazi Hamad, the Hamas deputy foreign minister, told Ynet, an Israeli news website. “It’s enough that the Palestine Liberation Organization — the representative of the Palestinian people — recognizes the State of Israel.” As for whether his party would renounce violence, Mr.Hamad told Ynet that the question would be worked out in negotiations with Fatah over the next few weeks.
Several Palestinian officials and analysts emphasized that the promised new government was to be made up of “technocrats” — professionals who are not partisan political figures — and that its task was to unify the Gaza Strip and West Bank after a seven-year schism and prepare for elections to be held in six months. Therefore, they said, there was no contradiction between a reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, and the Palestinian government’s continued negotiation with Israel.
But Mkhaimer Abusaada, a Gaza-based political analyst, said the new government would be subject to a confidence vote by the Palestinian Legislative Council, an elected body that has a Hamas majority.
“If Hamas gives a vote of confidence in this government, and this government is going to accept the Quartet preconditions, what is the contradiction between such a deal and negotiations with Israel?” Mr. Abusaada asked. “If that government takes a vote of confidence from the P.L.C. and at the end of the day the government is going to accept the Quartet preconditions, that means that Hamas is indirectly accepting the conditions of the Quartet. Whether that will work or not, we’ll have to see.”
Whatever nuances Palestinians may find in Hamas’s position, Mr. Netanyahu was emphatic in an interview with MSNBC on Thursday that Israel “will not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by Hamas.”
“These people are calling for the obliteration of the Jewish state,” and were “openly, openly calling for the killing of Jews wherever you find them,” he said.
Mr. Netanyahu said Israel was still prepared to talk peace. “If we encounter a Palestinian leadership and Palestinian government that is ready to pursue genuine peace negotiations, we’re going to be there,” he said. But he said that Mr. Abbas had, by embracing Hamas, “made a terrible decision for peace and I think, by the way, a terrible decision for his own people.”
Fares Akram contributed reporting from Gaza, and Brian Knowlton contributed from Washington.