Fatah-Hamas talks enrages Israel gov’t
JERUSALEMMoves by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to seal reconciliation with Hamas drew an angry response in Israel yesterday, with one government minister even calling for the annexation of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
After talks with Abbas in Cairo on Dec. 22 that Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal told AFP were held in an “excellent atmosphere,” the two men agreed on a process that would pave the way for the Islamist group to join a reformed Palestine Liberation Organization and for long delayed Palestinian elections.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman, Mark Regev, said the deal with the Islamist rulers of Gaza was proof that the Palestinian president was not interested in peace. “Hamas is not a political movement that resorts to terrorism but a group whose whole vocation is terrorism,” Regev told AFP. Transport Minister Israel Katz, a hardliner from Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, said Israel should respond by unilaterally annexing Jewish settlements in the West Bank as it did Arab east Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights. Israel has expressed mounting alarm as Abbas’s secular Fatah faction has intensified efforts to reconcile with Hamas in recent weeks. The two factions had previously been at loggerheads ever since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007, leaving the Palestinian territories with rival administrations.