A unity deal that ends the decade-old divide between Palestine’s West Bank and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip is going forward despite firm statements of opposition from Israel and the United States. Israeli and U.S. officials all said that they will hold no diplomatic talks with any Palestinian government in which Hamas plays a part.
Hamas signed the unity deal with Fatah, Palestine’s official governing political party, in Cairo last week. Hamas and Fatah had been estranged since Hamas won a popular election in the Gaza Strip and took over Gaza by force, expelled Fatah, and pursued its own separate policy of confrontation with Israel while Fatah continued to advocate for diplomatic resolutions to the longstanding Israel-Palestine conflict.
The unity deal brings Gaza and Palestine’s Arab populations back under one Palestinian government. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that they will have no more success negotiating with Israel together than they did while they were apart.
“The Israeli government will not hold political talks with a Palestinian government that is supported by Hamas, a terror organisation calling for the destruction of Israel,” the statement read,” Netanyahu said in a statement.
The U.S. president’s special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, joined in condemning Hamas. He said that the militant group must disarm before it takes part in a unity government.
Since its inception, Hamas has refused to recognize Israel’s right to exist and has called for armed violence against the Israeli state. Hamas has not refuted either position despite repeated Israeli and U.S. demands to do so.