Israel will not negotiate with any Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas, the security cabinet said Tuesday.
In order to reverse the decision, the cabinet outlined a series of conditions the terror group must meet before negotiations can take place, including disarming, recognizing Israel and stopping terror attacks, returning the bodies of fallen Israeli soldiers and Israeli civilians who are presumed to be alive and currently held in Gaza. In addition, Hamas must transfer complete security control in Gaza to the Palestinian Authority (PA), including border crossings and preventing cross-border smuggling and severing ties with Iran.
The cabinet also demanded that aid money and humanitarian assistance bound for Gaza be processed via the Palestinian Authority.
The decision echoed comments made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this month as rival Palestinian factions began attempts to reconcile after a decade-long split: Netanyahu responded to talks between Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and the Hamas leadership in Gaza on October 3 saying that Israel would not accept ‘bogus reconciliations’ at its expense and outlining the conditions that were adopted today.
“We expect everyone who talks about a peace process to recognize the State of Israel and, of course, to recognize a Jewish state and we are not prepared to accept bogus reconciliations in which the Palestinian side apparently reconciles at the expense of our existence,” Netanyahu said.
“Whoever wants to make such a reconciliation, our understanding is very clear: Recognize the State of Israel, disband the Hamas military arm, sever the connection with Iran, which calls for our destruction, and so on and so forth. Even these very clear things must be clearly stated,” he added.
More recently, Education Minister Naftali Bennett responded to an announcement last Thursday that the sides had reached a framework for negotiations to implement a previous attempt at unification, saying bringing Hamas into the Palestinian government would make it a ”terror government.“
”Saleh al-Arouri, who signed the deal, is responsible for the abduction and murder of the three Israeli teenagers [Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Sha’ar and Naftali Fraenkel, who were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas operatives in June, 2014]. Mahmoud Abbas’s joining with Hamas turns the Palestinian Authority into a terror authority. Israel must sever any connection to this terror authority.
”Due to our responsibility and concern for the security of Israel, the transfer of funds to the Hamas government must be stopped immediately so as to not be an ‘ATM for terror,’ especially since our abducted soldiers have not been returned, Israel has not been recognized and incitement and payment to terrorists have not been stopped,“ Bennett said.
Other Israeli officials – including a range of government ministers such as Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who are noteworthy for their opposition to peace negotiations with Abbas’s Palestine Liberation Organization – have notably refrained from speaking out about the deal.