Israel says no talks with Palestinian gov’t that includes armed Hamas
Israel's government decided on Oct. 17 not to negotiate with a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas if the Islamist movement does not disarm, recognize the country and give up violence.
The decision by the security cabinet, announced in a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office, comes after rival Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas signed a landmark unity deal last week aimed at ending their decade-long split.The statement said negotiations would not be held until a range of conditions were met -- and it seemed unlikely that all demands could be reached.
"The government of Israel will not carry out political negotiations with a Palestinian government that relies on Hamas, a terror organisation which calls for the destruction of Israel, until it fulfils the following conditions," the statement said.Beyond the initial three demands, it also said Hamas must no longer be supported by Iran, which provides it with military assistance.
In addition, it said the remains of two missing Israeli soldiers must be returned from the Gaza Strip to Israel.Three Israeli civilians believed held in Gaza, all said to be mentally unstable, must also be returned, it said.In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told AFP that the organization would ignore such "blatant Zionist interventions in Palestinian issues."
"The response must be to continue to strengthen the internal Palestinian front, and complete the reconciliation in every file under what was agreed in the Cairo agreement," he added. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah, based in the occupied West Bank, and Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, signed the unity agreement in Cairo on Oct. 12.
Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina also dismissed the Israeli declaration."Israeli remarks will not change the official Palestinian position to move forward with reconciliation efforts and achieve the hopes and aspirations of our people," he said in a statement to official news agency WAFA.
"The international community, including the American administration, has welcomed the return of the Palestinian national authority to the Gaza Strip," he added.
The Abbas-led Palestine Liberation Organisation has recognized Israel, unlike Hamas.The Palestinian Authority, currently dominated by Fatah, is due to resume control of the Gaza Strip by Dec. 1 under the deal.However, previous such attempts at reconciliation have repeatedly failed.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces raided Palestinian media offices across the occupied West Bank overnight in what a military spokeswoman yesterday called a “large-scale operation” against incitement.The raids on eight companies came hours after the Israeli government’s announcement of its decision. Israeli officials said the raids targeted companies that provide services to Hamas television stations.
Notices were posted saying the companies were to be closed for six months.“Israeli army forces last night raided eight Palestinian production and media companies that provide services to Al-Aqsa and Al-Quds TV channels,” the head of an Israeli defence ministry unit known as COGAT, Yoav Mordechai, wrote on Facebook, referring to Hamas channels.“These two channels broadcast constant incitement against the state of Israel.
It is no secret that these two channels inspired, several times, terrorists to go out and commit terrorist attacks against innocents.” Israeli officials provided no specific examples of the alleged incitement.
At least one of the companies targeted provides various services to a range of local and international news media.The Palestinian Authority said it condemned the raids “in the strongest terms.”“Occupation forces committed a blatant aggression and gross violation of all international laws when they stormed Palestinian cities and raided media offices,” PA government spokesman Yusef al-Mahmoud said in a statement.