Netanyahu hails US demand that Hamas renounce terror, recognize Israel
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Netanyahu hails US demand that Hamas renounce terror, recognize Israel

American peace envoy Jason Greenblatt travels to Egypt to discuss reconciliation deal between terror group and Fatah

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) meets with Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump's special representative for international negotiations, at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, March 13, 2017. (Matty Stern/US Embassy Tel Aviv)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) meets with Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump's special representative for international negotiations, at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, March 13, 2017. (Matty Stern/US Embassy Tel Aviv)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday hailed the US administration for rejecting any Palestinian government in which Hamas plays a role as long as the terrorist group refuses to recognize Israel and disavow violence.

“I am happy that Jason Greenblatt, President [Donald] Trump’s envoy, made it very clear that Hamas must be disarmed, recognize Israel and uphold previous international decisions,” Netanyahu said at ceremony marking 100 years since the death of pre-state underground fighter Sarah Aaronsohn in Zichron Yaakov.

Greenblatt’s statement reiterated that any Palestinian government “must be committed to these principles,” Netanyahu went on. “We want peace. We want a real peace, and exactly because of that we will not conduct negotiations with a terrorist organization in a diplomatic disguise.”

Masked Hamas terrorists attend the funeral of Mazen Fuqha in Gaza City, March, 25 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Meanwhile, Greenblatt has traveled to Egypt “to meet with senior officials about the status of reconciliation” between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party and the Hamas terror organization, a senior US official said Thursday.

Washington is “closely monitoring the reconciliation efforts,” which were signed last week in Cairo, the official said.

Greenblatt will also work with Egypt “on the basic principles outlined in his earlier statement today so we can help facilitate an enduring peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

US peace envoy Jason Greenblatt attends the launch of a project to improve access to wastewater treatment and water for Palestinian farmers, on October 15, 2017, in the West Bank city of Jericho. (AFP Photo/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

Earlier on Tuesday, Greenblatt had released a statement stressing the importance of the PA assuming “full, genuine, and unhindered civil and security responsibilities in Gaza” in order to improve the humanitarian situation for Palestinians in the coastal strip.

“The United States reiterates the importance of adherence to the Quartet principles: any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognize the State of Israel, accept previous agreements and obligations between the parties – including to disarm terrorists – and commit to peaceful negotiations,” Greenblatt said. “If Hamas is to play any role in a Palestinian government, it must accept these basic requirements.”

Hamas denounced Greenblatt’s statement.

“This is blatant interference in Palestinian affairs because it is the right of our people to choose its government according to their supreme strategic interests,” said senior Hamas official Bassem Naim.

He accused Greenblatt of bowing to pressure from Netanyahu’s right-wing government.

“This statement comes under pressure from the extreme right-wing Netanyahu government and is in line with the Netanyahu statement from two days ago,” Naim said.

AFP contributed to this report.

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