As leaders of the Palestinian Authority and Fatah met Hamas in Gaza City on Wednesday to announce plans to unite, Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV broadcast its hatred of Israel.
PMW also translated an article in official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida that quoted Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh insisting that Hamas’ policy of kidnapping Israeli soldiers would continue under a unified government.
“The kidnapping of Israeli soldiers is part of the agenda of the Palestinian resistance and of the Hamas movement, and will continue as long as there are Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli prisons,” Haniyeh was quoted as saying by Al-Hayat Al-Jadida.
The article was published last week, days before the unity plan was announced to the Israeli and international press. The PA media outlet attributed impetus for the unity push to Haniyeh, who was quoted as describing the unification strategy as “the next stage” of a pre-agreed plan:
Al-Hayat Al-Jadida wrote: “Yesterday [April 15, 2014] morning, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of the deposed Hamas government in Gaza, said that the next stage would be the implementation of the reconciliation [between Fatah and Hamas] agreed on in the past, and the announcement of the end of the schism.”
The Israeli government responded immediately and on Thursday the Cabinet voted unanimously to refuse to “negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by Hamas, a terrorist organization that calls for Israel’s destruction.”
On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had warned thatÂ Abbas “needs to choose between peace with Israel and an agreement with Hamas, a murderous terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and which both the United States and the European Union define as a terrorist organization.”
“Whoever chooses Hamas does not want peace,” Netanyahu said.
American Jewish groups also responded to the move.
On Thursday, Jewish human rights group the Anti-Defamation League said, “Israel’s suspension of peace talks was fully justified in light of the so-called ‘unity’ agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.”
“With its embrace ofÂ Hamas, a terrorist organization which unabashedly continues to call for the destruction of the State of Israel, Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority apparently have once again turned their back on peace and reconciliation,” Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said.
Pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC, the America Israel Public Affairs Committee, said, “The announced formation of a Hamas-Fatah unity government represents a direct affront to Secretary of State John Kerry and a severe blow to Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.”
“Hamas is an Islamist terrorist organization that seeks Israel’s destruction and attacks innocent civilians,” the group added. “Any Palestinian government that includes Hamas cannot be a negotiating partner