Hamas: Israeli threats won't stop unity gov't

Likud MK: I will petition international community to isolate Palestinian unity gov't including Hamas.

Khaled Mashaal in Cairo after reconcilliation agreement_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Khaled Mashaal in Cairo after reconcilliation agreement_311
(photo credit: Reuters)
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal responded to discontent in Jerusalem surrounding a united Palestinian government with Hamas and Fatah sharing power, saying Friday that threats from the Israeli government "do not scare us."
Mashaal was responding to a statement made by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday that Israel would not transfer tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority were it to form a unified government with Hamas.
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"Rather, [these threats] assure us that reconciliation is the best way forward for the Palestinian people," Ma'an News Agency quoted the Hamas leader as saying to AFP in Cairo.
"Why would be afraid?" Mashaal said a day after meetings with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in which the two parties' leaders agreed to work as "partners."
"The enemy [Israel] practices oppression daily against all Palestinians. Israel has exercised and still exercises aggression, assaults, and injustice against the Palestinian people," Mashaal said.
At the same time, Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom (Likud) criticized the Palestinian Authority for engaging Hamas, saying such moves disturbed any chance of jump-starting the defunct peace process.
Speaking to Army Radio, Shalom said that despite Israeli efforts to renew the diplomatic process with the Palestinian Authority, the political reconciliation between the historically rivaling Palestinian factions shows their disinterest in
reconnecting with Jerusalem."We are at a critical point today," Shalom told Army Radio. "Israel is trying to renew the peace process, but the Palestinians refuse any direct contact with us."Shalom said he would request from the international
Vice Premier Silvan Shalom (Reuters)Vice Premier Silvan Shalom (Reuters)
community to isolate a Palestinian government where Hamas shares the reins.
"I am going to petition the international community not to speak with a [unity] government that includes Hamas," Shalom said.
The Likud MK's comments echoed those made by
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev on Thursday, who said that “the closer Abbas gets to Hamas, the further away he gets from peace.”Still, diplomatic officials in Jerusalem, especially those within Netanyahu's political camp, said they believed that any progress in the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas is more show than reality, according to Army Radio Friday. On Thursday, Abbas and Mashaal announced that they had agreed to work as “partners,” but failed to reach agreement over the formation of a Palestinian unity government.
They did agree, however, to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in May and to release each other’s detainees from their prisons.
The two men are to meet again on December 22.
Khaled Abu Toameh and Herb Keinon contributed to this report.
Abbas meets Mashaal in Cairo (Reuters)Abbas meets Mashaal in Cairo (Reuters)