“Creating a lasting peace agreement will take time,” a senior US administration official said on Sunday, following meetings last week in Egypt with US Middle East negotiator Jason Greenblatt.According to the official, Greenblatt met in Cairo with Egyptian intelligence chief Khaled Fawzy to discuss the situation in Gaza and the recent Fatah-Hamas reconciliation efforts. Fawzy played a key role in brokering that agreement.Hamas leaders, meanwhile, demonstratively continued to reject Israeli and American demands that the organization moderate its actions and statements as part of its pact with Fatah. In response to these demands, Hamas leaders over the last few days have pledged to wipe out Israel, continue to build up militarily and strengthen its relationship with Iran.The security cabinet last week said Jerusalem will not conduct diplomatic negotiations with a Palestinian government that relies on Hamas unless the organization recognizes Israel, stops terrorism, disarms and cuts its ties with Iran.Last Thursday, the US-backed this position, with the senior US official saying on Sunday that during the meetings in Cairo the US “reiterated the importance of any Palestinian government adhering to the Quartet principles, unambiguously and explicitly committing to nonviolence, recognizing the State of Israel, accepting previous agreements and obligations between the parties – including to disarm terrorists – and committing to peaceful negotiations.”Hamas’s rejection of these conditions was not long in coming, with its leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar saying soon after a US statement last Thursday, “The discussion is no longer about recognizing Israel but about wiping Israel out,” and that Hamas would disarm “when Satan enters paradise.”
Iran’s Fars News Agency also quoted the deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau Saleh al-Arouri as saying in Tehran on Saturday that Hamas would never sever ties with Iran or disavow the armed struggle against Israel. According to Fars, Arouri said Hamas would not accept a demand to disarm; that rather than recognize Israel, it is fighting to destroy it; and that Arouri’s visit to Tehran was Hamas’s answer to the demand to sever ties with the Islamic Republic.This rhetoric led UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov on Sunday to tweet his condemnation of the “latest statements made by some Hamas leaders calling for the destruction of the State of Israel. Palestinian leaders are working to solve the humanitarian crisis and return the PA to Gaza. They must not be distracted from this goal.”Meanwhile, the senior US official said of Greenblatt’s meetings in Cairo, that the Egyptians “expressed a strong desire” to assist US peace efforts and “help improve the welfare of Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.”Washington, the official said, “welcomed such efforts.” He added that the two sides agreed to work with the Palestinian Authority, Israel, Jordan and other regional players “to explore all available opportunities to provide humanitarian assistance to Palestinians living in Gaza.”“Such assistance will require the international community to join together to fund projects that will tangibly and positively impact all Palestinians,” he said.The official said the “critical need to preserve” Egyptian and Israeli security was also discussed.
Trump"s envoy Jason Greenblatt meets Netanyahu (credit: REUTERS)