Khaled Mashaal in Cairo after reconcilliation agreement_311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal responded to discontent in Jerusalem
surrounding a united Palestinian government with Hamas and Fatah sharing
power, saying Friday that threats from the Israeli government "do not
Mashaal was responding to a statement made by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday that Israel would not transfer tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority were it to form a unified government with Hamas.
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[these threats] assure us that reconciliation is the best way forward
for the Palestinian people," Ma'an News Agency quoted the Hamas leader as saying to AFP in Cairo.
would be afraid?" Mashaal said a day after meetings with Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in which the two parties' leaders
agreed to work as "partners."
"The enemy [Israel] practices
oppression daily against all Palestinians. Israel has exercised and
still exercises aggression, assaults, and injustice against the
Palestinian people," Mashaal said.
At the same time, Deputy
Prime Minister Silvan Shalom (Likud) criticized the Palestinian
Authority for engaging Hamas, saying such moves disturbed any chance of
jump-starting the defunct peace process.
Speaking to Army Radio,
Shalom said that despite
Israeli efforts to renew the diplomatic process with the
Palestinian Authority, the political reconciliation between the
historically rivaling Palestinian factions shows their disinterest in reconnecting with Jerusalem.
are at a critical point today," Shalom told Army Radio. "Israel is
trying to renew the peace process, but the Palestinians refuse any
direct contact with us."
Shalom said he would request from the international community to isolate a Palestinian government where Hamas shares the reins.
"I am going to petition the international community not to speak with a [unity] government that includes Hamas," Shalom said.
The Likud MK's comments echoed those made by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev on Thursday, who said that “the closer Abbas gets to Hamas, the further away he gets from
Still, diplomatic officials in Jerusalem,
especially those within Netanyahu's political camp, said they believed
that any progress in the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas is more
show than reality, according to Army Radio Friday.
On Thursday, Abbas and Mashaal
announced that they had agreed to work as “partners,” but failed to
reach agreement over the formation of a Palestinian unity
They did agree, however, to hold presidential and
parliamentary elections in May and to release each other’s detainees from their
The two men are to meet again on December 22.
Khaled Abu Toameh and Herb Keinon contributed to this report.