Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas will make “peace much harder to achieve,” hours after the Palestinian faction Fatah and rival terror group Hamas signed a unity deal in Cairo in a bid to end a decade-long rift.
“Reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas makes peace [with Israel] much harder to achieve,” Netanyahu said on his office’s Facebook page.
Referring to Hamas, Netanyahu said: “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.”
Netanyahu said Israel would oppose “any reconciliation in which the terrorist organization Hamas does not disarm and end its war to destroy Israel.”
“Reconciling with mass-murderers is part of the problem, not part of the solution. Say yes to peace and no to joining hands with Hamas,” he said.
Israel opposes any reconciliation in which the terrorist organization Hamas does not disarm and end its war to destroy…
Earlier, Israeli government sources indicated that Israel will not recognize a unified Fatah-Hamas Palestinian government unless Hamas disarms, stops terrorism, and recognizes Israel.
The officials said Israel would not accept the reconciliation deal as long as Hamas continues to build terror tunnels in the Gaza Strip and carries out other terror activity, and as long as it is still holding the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, as well as two Israeli citizens.
“Any reconciliation between the (Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority) and Hamas must include a commitment to international agreements and to the conditions of the Quartet, first of which is recognizing Israel and demilitarizing Hamas,” one official said, in the Israeli government’s first reaction to the deal signed in Cairo.
“The continued digging of tunnels, manufacturing of rockets and terror activities against Israel is against the Quartet’s conditions and the efforts of the US to renew the diplomatic process,” the official told Channel 10.
The Israeli official also emphasized that “so long as Hamas does not disarm and continues to call for the destruction of Israel, Israel sees the group as responsible for any terror activity coming out of Gaza.”
“Israel demands that the Palestinian Authority does not allow any Hamas terror activities to be undertaken from the PA authority’s territories in Judea and Samaria as well as from Gaza, if indeed the PA gains control there. Israel will examine developments on the ground and react accordingly,” the official added.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the nationalist Jewish Home party, blasted the deal.
“The Palestinians today decided to form a terror government,” he said in a statement. “Mahmoud Abbas’ joining with Hamas turns the Palestinian Authority into a terror authority. Israel must sever any connection to this terror authority. From now, any Israeli cooperation with Abbas is cooperation with Hamas. This must be stressed ahead of expected international pressure to resume negotiations in light of the Palestinian agreement.”
Hamas and Fatah signed the reconciliation deal on Thursday in Cairo under the auspices of Egyptian government. The Palestinian Authority is to retake full control of the Gaza Strip by December 1, according to the deal.
Upon signing the deal, the Hamas deputy political leader said the agreement was reached in order that all Palestinian forces can “work together against the Zionist enterprise.”
Speaking after the agreement was signed, Saleh al-Arouri, who headed the Hamas delegation that negotiated the deal, said Palestinian unity was vital “so that we can all work together against the Zionist enterprise, which seeks to wipe out and trample the rights of our people.”
“We in Hamas are determined, serious and sincere this time and every time to end the division,” Arouri said. “We have adopted the strategy of one step at a time so that the reconciliation will succeed.”
Seated alongside him, Azzam al-Ahmad, the head of the Fatah delegation for the talks, said he had been instructed by Abbas to end the rift between the rival factions so that all the Palestinian people’s strength could be unified, “headed by Fatah and Hamas.”
Islamist terror group Hamas seized control of Gaza from Abbas’s Fatah in a violent coup in 2007. It has since fought three major rounds of conflict against Israel, which it openly seeks to eliminate. Israel has always opposed any “unified” Palestinian government in which Hamas has a role. Together with much of the international community, Israel has demanded, as preconditions for Hamas legitimacy, that the group renounce terrorism, accept Israel’s right to exist, and accept previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
Reports from Egypt Thursday, quoted by Israel Radio, said Hamas was not prepared to disarm. The Islamist terror group was said to have instead agreed, under the terms of the emerging reconciliation deal, that it would not use its weaponry unless a resort to force was approved by a joint panel. There was no immediate official confirmation of this.
It was also not immediately clear what would become of Hamas’s 25,000-strong military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Abbas had previously demanded that Hamas disarm.
Arouri, who in recent years served as the terror group’s head of West Bank operations, was appointed as the organization’s deputy political leader earlier this month. He serves under Ismail Haniyeh, who himself replaced Khaled Mashaal as the group’s political bureau chief in May.
Arouri is believed by Israel to have planned numerous terrorist attacks including the 2014 kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in the West Bank — Gil-ad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel — which led to the 2014 Israel-Hamas war.
Channel 10 reported last week that Israeli officials fear Arouri’s powerful position in Hamas could lead to an upsurge in terror if Fatah-Hamas reconciliation goes ahead, since Fatah could give Hamas greater flexibility and freedom in the West Bank.