By: Yona Schnitzer/TPS
Hamas must disarm and recognize the state of Israel if it wishes to play any role in the Palestinian government, United States’ Special Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt said Thursday.
“The United States reiterates the importance of adherence to the Quartet principles: any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognize the State of Israel, accept previous agreements and obligations between the parties – including to disarm terrorists – and commit to peaceful negotiations.
“If Hamas is to play any role in a Palestinian government, it must accept these basic requirements,” Greenblatt said in a media statement which represented the Trump administration’s first official response to the Egypt-brokered reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah.
The statement backed a resolution by Israel’s security cabinet on Sunday declaring that Jerusalem would not negotiate with the PA until Hamas was disarmed and agreed to disavow attacks on Israelis.
The issue of Hamas’s military wing is the biggest point of contention of the deal, and may ultimately be its unmaking. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who also heads the Fatah Party, was recently quoted saying that he will not accept an armed Hamas and insisting that the Palestinian people must have “one state, one regime, one law and one armed force.” Abbas rejected the notion that Hamas would adopt the “Hezbollah Model,” whereby the PA would control the civilian aspects of governing in Gaza while allowing Hamas to control military matters.
However, Dr. Moussa Abu Marzouk, the deputy head of Hamas’ political wing, recently said that Hamas’ weapons are “intended for the defense of the Palestinian people, and as long as the Palestinian people are under occupation, the weapons will continue to be ready for any scenario,” dismissing any say Fatah may have in the matter.
Israeli Education Minister and Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett welcomed Greenblatt’s statement, saying the American administration had sent a clear sign to both Israelis and Palestinians.
“A Palestinian government must dismantle the terror organizations and recognize Israel. I am emphasizing our government’s stance – Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian government that leans on a terror organization, until Hamas disarms itself, recognizes Israel and return Israeli hostages and the bodies of Israeli soldiers to Israel.”
Hamas responded to Greenblatt’s statement with a declaration of its own, accusing the US of “interfering” with the unity deal.
“This is a blatant interference in the Palestinian cause because it is our people’s right to choose their government according to their own strategic interests,” said Hamas senior official Basem Naim.
He also claimed the US was acting “under pressure” from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, saying, “Greenblatt’s statement and the demand for a Palestinian unity government to recognize Israel and renounce violence came under pressure from the right-wing government in Israel.”
With additional reporting by Breaking Israel News staff