Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced Sunday that he planned
to head to Cairo soon to resume reconciliation talks with Hamas, as Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called on him to condemn the group’s threats to
“Reconciliation [with Hamas] is dear to us and the unity
of our people,” Abbas told the Arab League in Doha, Qatar.
Khaled Mashaal agreed. He told an audience at Gaza’s Islamic University that
“responsibility for Palestine is bigger than one faction alone... Hamas cannot
do without Fatah and Fatah cannot do without Hamas.”
The two Palestinian
groups have been rivals since Hamas threw Fatah out of Gaza in a bloody coup in
2007. Hamas is also opposed to Fatah’s recognition of Israel along the pre-1967
On Saturday, Mashaal told a rally of thousands in Gaza that all
Israeli land from the river to the sea belonged to Palestine and that his group
would never recognize Israel.
In response, Netanyahu told the cabinet on
Sunday that the union of Hamas and Fatah was dangerous.
were re-exposed to our enemies’ true face. They have no intention of compromising
with us; they want to destroy the state,” said Netanyahu.
He called on
Abbas to condemn Hamas’s hatred of Israel rather than seek to unite with the
“It is interesting that Abu Mazen [Abbas] has issued no
condemnation, not of the remarks about the destruction of Israel, just as
previously he did not condemn the missiles that were fired at Israel,” Netanyahu
said. “To my regret, he strives for unity with the same Hamas that is supported
Netanyahu took a subtle swipe at one of his political rivals,
Tzipi Livni, who in the past had supported unilateral territorial withdrawal,
including from Gaza in 2005.
“We are not prepared to repeat the same
mistake of a unilateral withdrawal and withdrawals that, in effect, led Hamas to
take control of Gaza,” Netanyahu said.
“I have always been astonished at
the delusions of others who are prepared to continue this process and call it
peace,” he charged.
Handing over more territory in Judea and Samaria without peace would only bring
Gaza to the outskirts of Tel Aviv, Netanyahu said.
Israeli leaders, he
said, have to secure Israel by withstanding international pressure.
immediately shot back with a Facebook statement charging that under Netanyahu’s
government Hamas had grown stronger, not weaker, and received more international
Speaking at the Globes Israel Business Conference, President
Shimon Peres agreed with Netanyahu that Mashaal’s intention was war and murder,
but disagreed with his attitude toward Abbas.
“Israel faces a choice
between Gaza and the West Bank, between Hamas and President Abbas. The
alternative to Hamas is Abbas,” Peres said.
He lauded Abbas’s
declarations of peace and support for a two-state solution.
“We have two
clear choices, nobody is perfect – but one is right and the other is
wrong. We have to choose between Mashaal and Abbas,” Peres
Reuters contributed to this report.