Finance Minister Yair Lapid gestures during a speech to his Yesh Atid deputies at the Knesset..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas-Fatah cooperation is proof that the Palestinians do not want peace, ministers said after the new Palestinian government was sworn in Monday.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid, a member of the Security Cabinet, said that “we need time to evaluate the new government.
Now is not the time for harsh criticism,” and asked MKs not to distract attention from Hamas’ character.
“The international community now knows the Palestinians are the ones who refused to make peace,” Lapid said.
According to Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel the Hamas-Fatah coalition is a continuation of the Palestinian “sabotage” of negotiations.
“[Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas formed a terrorist government today, with murderers who killed hundreds of Israelis, proving once again that he is not interested in peace with the State of Israel,” Ariel said.
The Bayit Yehudi minister called on the government to give an appropriate, Zionist response and build thousands of homes in the West Bank.
Knesset Land of Israel Caucus leaders MKs Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu) and Orit Struck (Bayit Yehudi) said Abbas crossed a red line by cooperation with Hamas and, as such, the government should begin gradually annexing Judea and Samaria.
Deputy Minister Ofir Akunis, a close ally of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, said peace talks will not be renewed anytime soon.
“The Palestinians chose an agreement with Hamas, a murderous terrorist organization, instead of promoting peace with Israel,” Akunis said in a speech to the Knesset. “Do you know someone who would talk to a person trying to destroy him? Who says he doesn’t have a right to exist?” Akunis said that Abbas made his own choice and no one forced him to cooperate with terrorists.
On the Left, opposition leader Isaac Herzog called for the government to be careful and responsible and wait to see how the new Palestinian government behaves and whether it accepts the Quartet’s conditions: Recognizing Israel and previous agreements and committing to stop terror.
“Israel’s security interests require a stable Palestinian Authority,” he said. “I recommend that we do not have sanctions or take unilateral steps. We might regret those steps later.”
Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On said that Netanyahu should see the Palestinian government as an opportunity to reach peace.
“Don’t have the Pavlovian reaction, which goes against Israeli interests,” she said.
“Uniting Hamas and Fatah is necessary and will turn Abbas into the president of all Palestinians as long as the government accepts the Quartet’s conditions.”
According to Gal-On, Netanyahu’s opposition to the Palestinian unity government
is an excuse that is meant to stop peace talks and continue extreme right-wing policies, which pushed Abbas into Hamas’ hands.
Not accepting the Hamas-Fatah government presents Israel as the side that is refusing to make peace, Gal-On added.
MK Nachman Shai (Labor) also criticized the government for seeing the Hamas-Fatah union as a danger and not an opportunity.
“This government continues to sabotage any chance for change and progress,” he said.
“The result of [sanctions against the Palestinians] will be a decline in our diplomatic and security situation.”