Netanyahu ‘deeply troubled’ by Obama’s decision
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly criticized the Obama administration for pledging to work with the new Palestinian unity government on Tuesday, saying he is “deeply troubled” by the decision.
Additionally, Netanyahu’s office threatened to levy further sanctions on the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority over its decision to reconcile with Gaza-based Hamas, which has been labeled a terrorist organization by the US, European Union, and Israel.
The remarks came just one day after the US and EU stated they would recognize and continue to fund the Fatah-Hamas governing alliance, despite objections by the Jewish state. As RT reported previously, Netanyahu had urged the world to reject the unity government due to the involvement of Hamas, a group committed to the destruction of Israel.
Speaking with the Associated Press, Netanyahu expressed frustration over the development.
"I'm deeply troubled by the announcement that the United States will work with the Palestinian government backed by Hamas," he said, adding that the group has murdered "countless innocent civilians."
"All those who genuinely seek peace must reject President Abbas' embrace of Hamas, and most especially, I think the United States must make it absolutely clear to the Palestinian president that his pact with Hamas, a terrorist organization that seeks Israel's liquidation, is simply unacceptable.”
Although Congress has passed legislation that limits funding for the Palestinian Authority should it reconcile with Hamas, the Obama administration stated on Monday that, so far, Abbas has not appointed any cabinet members affiliated with the militant group. So long as the new government rejects violence and recognizes Israel’s right to exist, the State Department said it would be willing to give it a chance.
"At this point, it appears that President Abbas has formed an interim technocratic government that does not include ministers affiliated with Hamas," said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, according to Reuters.
As noted by the AP, Abbas has maintained that the unity government would follow these principles and obey all agreements forged previously with Israel. At this point, Hamas’ involvement seems to be relegated to support “from the outside."
These assurances were not enough for Israel, which promptly severed ties with the PA and has promised to boycott the government. According to Agence France-Presse, the Jewish state has also decided to freeze the transfer of tax revenue to the PA, while a security cabinet meeting has moved “to authorise the prime minister (Benjamin Netanyahu) to impose additional sanctions on the Palestinian Authority.”
Additionally, Netanyahu said Israel would consider the PA “directly responsible for the terrorism emanating from Gaza” as a result of the agreement.
For its part, Abbas’ prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, told the AP that his government will continue their efforts to create an independent Palestinian state.
"We call on the international community to immediately recognize the government and continue to support the Palestinian political leadership efforts to enable the government to face all political challenges, especially the Israeli policies that hinder the political and economic stability in the region.”