Lieberman to EU: Be cautious about Fatah-Hamas unity

FM says PA partnership with Hamas means they themselves are terrorists; calls on int'l community not to legitimize Hamas gov't.

Avigdor Lieberman 521 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Avigdor Lieberman 521
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Palestinian Authority’s partnership with Hamas means that the PA has “partnered with terrorists,” Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said over the weekend, as Israel urged the international community not to legitimize the new Palestinian reconciliation accord.
World leaders are being asked by Jerusalem to insist that Hamas recognize Israel and renounce terrorism as a precondition to any international recognition of a Palestinian unity government.
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“We would expect that before world leaders cooperate with such a government, should it be established, that they would set as a precondition recognition of the Quartet conditions – that such [a government] recognize Israel, abandon the path of terror and accept all previous agreements with Israel,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Saturday in a conversation with the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
“The Palestinian Authority and Hamas must explicitly accept these demands before establishing a joint government.
This demand must be heard in advance so it can influence the behavior of the Palestinian leadership,” he said.
Barak added that Hamas was a terrorist organization, which fires missiles and rockets at Israel. Recently it fired an anti-tank missile at a school bus, killing a 16-year-old boy, he said.
Barak spoke with Ban, as Fatah and Hamas prepare to sign a unity agreement this coming Wednesday. The two groups have yet to form a government – a process that could take weeks, if not months.
Ban’s spokesman said on Friday that the secretary-general welcomed “efforts being made to promote Palestinian reconciliation, and the important contribution of Egypt in this regard.”
He added that Ban hoped the “reconciliation will now take place in a manner thatpromotes the cause of peace, security and non-violence.”
“The United Nations will study carefully the agreement as soon as the details are available,” the spokesman added.
On Friday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd during a meeting in Jerusalem that a unity government not based on the recognition of Israel and the renunciation of terror, “was a step in the wrong direction.”
Netanyahu added that “Palestinian society was divided into two – between those who called for the destruction of Israel, and for those who refuse to confront the people who called for the destruction of Israel.”
“Today, with the proposed unity government, it is not only that they refuse to confront the people who call for the destruction of Israel – they have decided to embrace them,” he added.
Also on Friday, Lieberman urged the European Union to be cautious in its approach to the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.
“Europe must demand that Hamas comply with the Quartet conditions, which it helped formulate,” he said during a telephone conversation with the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton.
Europe should also demand that Hamas allow the Red Cross to visit captive soldier Gilad Schalit. Since Schalit was kidnapped on June 26, 2006, Hamas has not allowed anyone to visit him.
Support for the agreement, before Hamas has fulfilled these conditions, sends a message to the Palestinians that “terror pays,” and it reduces the chances of reaching a political settlement, Lieberman said.
The agreement raises serious concerns that Hamas would take over any territory transferred by Israel to the PA – the same way that it took control of Gaza, he added.
Earlier on Friday, Lieberman said that the PA’s partnership with Hamas means that the PA has partnered with terrorists.
“Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] and the PA must understand that it is not possible to be a partner with terrorists without being a partner to terror,” Lieberman said.
“The international community must not legitimize the government whose face is the face of Abu Mazen, and whose arms are the arms of Hamas – who launches missiles at citizens and stains innocents with blood,” Lieberman said.
Lieberman traveled to Cyprus to discuss bilateral relations, events in the Middle East and the Hamas-Fatah unity agreement and its effect on Israeli-Palestinian relations.
President Shimon Peres said Friday that the Hamas-Fatah unity deal states that the PA will control the West Bank and Hamas will control the Gaza Strip – contradicting earlier comments by Abbas that the Palestinians would be ruled by one body.
Peres said that if proposed political platforms include the destruction of Israel – and continued subordination to Iran – it is irrelevant what the results for next year’s elections will be.

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.