Israel will hold Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas responsible for every rocket fired on it from Gaza if he goes through with his national unity pact with Hamas, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday.
The prime minister made his comments in Tokyo before the start of a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, and two days before Abbas is scheduled to meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry in London.
Jerusalem has been lobbying the international community to place pressure on Abbas not to consummate his unity agreement with Hamas. Under the agreement, announced last month just prior to the expiration of the ninemonth deadline in the US-brokered diplomatic talks, an interim unity PA government is to be set up by the end of May, and elections held six months after that.
Netanyahu made clear in his statement that if the deal is not implemented, Israel would be willing to return to the negotiations.
“We hope that this pact is dissolved and we can find a way to return to genuine negotiations with a genuine peace,” he said.
“Hamas is committed to our destruction,” he said. “We remain committed to advancing the peace, preferably a negotiated peace. But we can only negotiate with a government whose constituent parts are committed to peace.”
Meanwhile, the EU’s envoy to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, said the EU’s view of Hamas has not changed: “It is a terrorist organization designated as such under EU law.”
However, he added, “something must be done to pave the way for the holding of long-overdue elections that are necessary for ensuring the development of a democratic culture in a future Palestinian state.”
Faaborg-Andersen said the EU’s position on Palestinian reconciliation is clear: “Only a Palestinian government of independent figures committed to nonviolence, accepting previous agreements and Israel’s right to exist, will be acceptable to us.”
He spoke at a luncheon in Jerusalem that the EU ambassadors held with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman.
Liberman complained to the ambassadors that the EU condemns Israel over every new structure in the settlements, but yet was strangely quiet when Hamas executed two people in Gaza last Wednesday for allegedly spying for Israel.
Liberman also appeared before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, and said that in his estimation the freeze in the negotiations with the Palestinians will continue. Abbas was not interested in an agreement, regardless of what Israel would offer, and it is impossible to offer him more than was offered by former prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, which he refused, Liberman said.
He said that Israel had tools at its disposal that it had not yet used to combat unilateral Palestinian steps in the international arena. The Palestinians were not immediately turning to join more international treaties, covenants and organizations, because of a concern that the US would cut off funds, Liberman said.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, Netanyahu – in addition to meeting Japan’s foreign minister – met with Emperor Akihito, as well as with leading Japanese businessmen.
Additionally, he gave two interviews to the Japanese media.
On Wednesday, he is scheduled to travel to Kyoto, before flying back to Israel on Thursday.