Prime Minister Netanyahu and PA President Abbas 311 (R).
(photo credit: Jason Reed / Reuters)
Israel will not negotiate with the Palestinian Authority if Hamas joins the PA
government, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said unequivocally on
Netanyahu’s comments to Israel’s ambassadors and consuls- general
gathered for an annual meeting at the Foreign Ministry came just days after
Hamas and Fatah made strides toward reconciliation, with Fatah agreeing to
incorporate Hamas into the PLO to prepare for new elections for the
organization’s two key bodies – the Palestine National Council and Executive
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Netanyahu also told the diplomats that progress in the
diplomatic process with the Palestinians will only be made if Israel were able
to have firm security arrangements on the ground, something he acknowledged
would be more difficult now since Israel’s security requirements have changed as
a result of the dramatic shifts and uncertainties in the
Referring to his demand that any future Palestinian state be
demilitarized, the prime minister said he was not willing to tolerate a
situation where a future state would – like Gaza and southern Lebanon – turn
into a missile-launching base against Israel as soon as the IDF
Netanyahu repeated to the diplomats that he was willing to meet
PA President Mahmoud Abbas without preconditions “any place and any time.” He
also reiterated his demand that an agreement would necessitate the Palestinians
recognizing Israel as the national home of the Jewish people, but said that was not a precondition to starting talks.
Mohammed Shtayyeh, a member of
the Fatah Central Committee and one of the PA negotiators with Israel, was
quoted Sunday as saying the Palestinians may cancel the agreements signed
between the PLO and Israel.
His comments were published by the
London-based Asharq Alawsat
newspaper. This was not the first time a senior PA
official had talked about the possibility of abrogating the Oslo
In response to a question about Israeli settlements, Shtayyeh
said if Netanyahu “insists there is no difference between the settlement of Abu
Ghneim [Har Homa] and Tel Aviv, we won’t distinguish between Ramallah and
With regards to the PLO’s decision to recognize Israel in 1993,
Shtayyeh explained: “The recognition of Israel was not a balanced recognition.
The PLO recognized Israel in the geographic sense, but Israel did not recognize
Palestine geographically, but as an institution. Israel only recognized the PLO.
Now we are demanding a mutual recognition. We want Israel to recognize
the Palestinian territories of 1967.”
Netanyahu’s Spokesman Mark Regev
agreed there was an asymmetry, but said that while Israel had accepted the
existence of a Palestinian people with a right to self-determination and a state
of its own, the Palestinian leadership stubbornly refuses to admit there is a
Jewish people – with a connection to the land – and a right to self
determination and a state of its own.
Israeli officials took in stride
Shtayyeh’s threat to abrogate the Oslo Accords, saying the PA has a record of
engaging in extreme brinkmanship – threatening to quit en masse, or give up
working toward two states – hoping thereby to apply pressure on
Meanwhile, some PLO and Fatah leaders have privately criticized
Abbas for agreeing to incorporate Hamas into the PLO.
At least three
senior officials in Ramallah have voiced strong reservations over the decision,
a Fatah official told The Jerusalem Post.
He said those who were opposed to the
move were worried that Hamas would replace Fatah as the dominant party in the
One official was quoted as saying Abbas was paving the way for Hamas
and Islamic Jihad to take control not only over the PLO, but the entire West
Bank as well.