WASHINGTON – The US won’t deal with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas
unless the Islamist group reforms, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared
In the wake of the unity deal signed between Hamas and Fatah
on Wednesday, Clinton said Hamas must adopt the Quartet principles of
recognizing Israel’s right to exist, renouncing violence and respecting treaties
previously signed by the Palestinians.
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“We’ve made it very clear that we
cannot support any government that consists [sic] of Hamas unless and until
Hamas adopts the Quartet principles,” Clinton said at a press conference with
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, referring to the conditions set by the
US, UN, EU and Russia.
Frattini said he, like Clinton, was waiting for
further details on the exact nature of the new Palestinian Authority government,
but stressed that Italy, too, felt Hamas must comply with the Quartet
requirements to be a suitable partner.
“There is no doubt that complying
with the principles of the Quartet is a prerequisite before Hamas can be
considered by Italy as a potential interlocutor,” he said.
deal between the rival Palestinian factions has scrambled diplomatic
calculations on all sides in what was already a chaotic Middle Eastern
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will be consulting with US
President Barack Obama on the implications of Palestinian reconciliation among
other regional developments when they meet in Washington on May 20.
White House put out an announcement on Wednesday night saying “the leaders look
forward to discussing the full range of issues of mutual interest to the United
States and Israel.”
While in town, Netanyahu will address a joint session
of Congress, as well as the American Israel Public Affairs
Before the unity deal was announced, he was said to be
preparing the outline of a path for reaching an accord with the
Netanyahu’s plans were partly prompted by PA President
Mahmoud Abbas’s stated intention of turning to the UN for a vote to recognize
Palestinian statehood in September, and by an Israeli desire to seize the
initiative at a time of great turmoil among Arab regimes, including Israel’s
Those considerations – and an interest to shape the
contours for peace before Netanyahu did so – were also seen to be pushing Obama to make a
In April, Clinton hinted that Obama would soon address the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the changing Middle East regimes. But the
Fatah-Hamas unity deal seems to have affected that plan.
has also been thinking about making a speech laying out his approach to resolve
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
When the agreement between Fatah and
Hamas was announced last week, it caught both Washington and Jerusalem by
surprise,” former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk told the Council on
“That put an end for the time being to the idea that
the president would come out with a peace plan, because if the environment was
hostile before, it seemed to have grown even more hostile because of the
Palestinian agreement negotiated by the Egyptians.”
Yet Indyk said that
given the week’s events, “some influential people in the administration say that
the opportunity of the president giving a ‘winds of change’ speech, in which he
frames America’s approach to the ongoing Arab awakening and lays out his
approach to solving the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, may well be strengthened
by the killing of [Osama] bin Laden.”
On Thursday, Clinton also
articulated American attitudes toward one of the countries rocked by the recent
uprisings, noting the US’s “deep concern about the alarming situation in Syria.”
She welcomed Italy’s call for the EU to impose sanctions, following the US
decision to establish sanctions against individuals who have engaged in human
“Together, we have to show the Syrian government that
there are consequences for this brutal crackdown that has been imposed on the
Syrian people,” she said.