Israel to boycott new PA gov’t, hold it responsible for rocket fire

After Hamas-backed unity cabinet established in Ramallah, Netanyahu calls Abbas a ‘peace rejectionist’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on February 23, 2014. (file photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/POOL/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on February 23, 2014. (file photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/POOL/Flash90)

Israeli ministers said they would hold a new Palestinian unity government responsible for any rockets fired at Israel from Gaza, in a Monday response to the inclusion of the Hamas movement in a new Palestinian cabinet sworn in earlier in the day.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and eight top ministers said they would boycott the new Hamas-backed Palestinian government and form a team to “examine courses of action” in light of its establishment.

Earlier in the day, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas swore in 17 ministers who make up a new technocratic government meant to steer the PA toward elections in six months.

The move angered Israel for including the Hamas movement, which refuses to recognize Israel and which Israel and much of the international community consider a terror organization.

In a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office, the security cabinet denounced the new Palestinian Authority leadership, with Netanyahu calling PA President Mahmoud Abbas a peace rejectionist and vowing not to negotiate with his new government.

The cabinet decided Israel would now view the Palestinian government as responsible for any hostile action emanating from the Gaza Strip as well as the West Bank, according to the statement.

The security cabinet also voted unanimously to reject any negotiations with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas, and authorized Netanyahu to impose further sanctions upon the Palestinian leadership.

Abbas “has today said yes to terror and no to peace. This is a direct continuation of [Abbas’s] policy which rejects peace,” Netanyahu said.

“[He] has made a pact with Hamas, an organization designated as a terror group by the US, Europe, Egypt and throughout the world. The international community should treat him accordingly.”

The cabinet also voted to prevent any terror organizations from participating in future Palestinian elections, according to the statement. That likely means that Israel will refuse to allow Palestinian elections in East Jerusalem should Hamas take part.

The ministers called for the formation of a team that would prepare for possible diplomatic and security difficulties likely to arise in Israel’s dealings with the new Palestinian leadership.

Abbas on Monday hailed the end of Palestinian division, saying: “Today, with the formation of a national consensus government, we announce the end of a Palestinian division that has greatly damaged our national case.”

He decried Israel’s refusal to recognize the government, indicating the Palestinians would continue efforts for statehood, which put on hold over the past year during peace talks with Israel. “We won’t stand with our hands folded in the face of punitive measures, and we will use every legal and diplomatic tool at our disposal in the international community,” he said according to a report in the Haaretz newspaper.

Abbas has already pledged that the new administration will abide by the principles laid down by the Middle East peace Quartet that call for recognizing Israel, rejecting violence and abiding by all existing agreements. However, Hamas has yet to ratify those conditions.

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