Fatah-Hamas reconciliation talks to be held in Cairo

Netanyahu echoes Peres in saying Mashaal's speech reveals the movement's true colors as a terror group that advocates killing.

PA President Abbas with Hamas leader Khaled  Mashaal 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Ho New)
PA President Abbas with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ho New)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced Sunday that he planned to head to Cairo soon to resume reconciliation talks with Hamas, as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called on him to condemn the group’s threats to destroy Israel.
“Reconciliation [with Hamas] is dear to us and the unity of our people,” Abbas told the Arab League in Doha, Qatar.
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal agreed. He told an audience at Gaza’s Islamic University that “responsibility for Palestine is bigger than one faction alone... Hamas cannot do without Fatah and Fatah cannot do without Hamas.”
The two Palestinian groups have been rivals since Hamas threw Fatah out of Gaza in a bloody coup in 2007. Hamas is also opposed to Fatah’s recognition of Israel along the pre-1967 lines.
On Saturday, Mashaal told a rally of thousands in Gaza that all Israeli land from the river to the sea belonged to Palestine and that his group would never recognize Israel.
In response, Netanyahu told the cabinet on Sunday that the union of Hamas and Fatah was dangerous.
“Yesterday we were re-exposed to our enemies’ true face. They have no intention of compromising with us; they want to destroy the state,” said Netanyahu.
He called on Abbas to condemn Hamas’s hatred of Israel rather than seek to unite with the group.
“It is interesting that Abu Mazen [Abbas] has issued no condemnation, not of the remarks about the destruction of Israel, just as previously he did not condemn the missiles that were fired at Israel,” Netanyahu said. “To my regret, he strives for unity with the same Hamas that is supported by Iran.”
Netanyahu took a subtle swipe at one of his political rivals, Tzipi Livni, who in the past had supported unilateral territorial withdrawal, including from Gaza in 2005.
“We are not prepared to repeat the same mistake of a unilateral withdrawal and withdrawals that, in effect, led Hamas to take control of Gaza,” Netanyahu said.
“I have always been astonished at the delusions of others who are prepared to continue this process and call it peace,” he charged.
Handing over more territory in Judea and Samaria without peace would only bring Gaza to the outskirts of Tel Aviv, Netanyahu said.
Israeli leaders, he said, have to secure Israel by withstanding international pressure.
Livni immediately shot back with a Facebook statement charging that under Netanyahu’s government Hamas had grown stronger, not weaker, and received more international legitimacy.
Speaking at the Globes Israel Business Conference, President Shimon Peres agreed with Netanyahu that Mashaal’s intention was war and murder, but disagreed with his attitude toward Abbas.
“Israel faces a choice between Gaza and the West Bank, between Hamas and President Abbas. The alternative to Hamas is Abbas,” Peres said.
He lauded Abbas’s declarations of peace and support for a two-state solution.
“We have two clear choices, nobody is perfect – but one is right and the other is wrong. We have to choose between Mashaal and Abbas,” Peres said.
Reuters contributed to this report.