Philip Gordon, a senior advisor of US President Barack Obama, has said that Hamas-Fatah reconciliation "is not necessarily a bad thing," the Haaretz has reported. Gordon was, apparently, addressing Jewish leaders behind closed doors when he made his comments.
He told them that the timing of the deal was "unhelpful", but stressed that it was hard to reach a peace deal with only "half of the Palestinians". The advisor noted that the Palestinians are divided, with half in the occupied West Bank, controlled by Fatah, and the other half in the Gaza Strip, controlled by Hamas.
According to Gordon, unity between Hamas and Fatah could increase opportunities to reach a peace deal as it strengthens Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, who would be leading all Palestinians.
Meanwhile, he reaffirmed the US position that "Hamas is a terrorist organisation and the US Administration will not recognise a Palestinian government without sticking to the Quartet's conditions: renouncing terrorism, recognising Israel and approving previous peace deals."
Washington, the US official said, does not have any reason to object to Palestinian elections because it follows the policy of "let's wait and see". At the end, the US wants a Palestinian government that sticks to the peace process.
"The US believes that Abbas does not seek a real dialogue with Hamas, but he wants to exploit Hamas weakness in order to reinforce his control and reach a deal with Israel based on a strong position," said Gordon. His statement could be interpreted as a warning to Hamas that Abbas and Fatah are not sincere and the Islamic Resistance Movement has been misled.
According to the Haaretz, an Israeli official said that the US pledged it would not ask Israel to talk with a Palestinian unity government if Hamas did not adopt the Quartet's conditions. It reported American officials as saying that the US would accept a unity government sticking to those conditions.
Israel expressed disappointment with this position and asked the US to clarify that recognising the Quartet's conditions is not demanded by a unity government, but by all Palestinian factions, including Hamas.
An Israeli official told the newspaper that the US pledged to support Israel's position in this regard during Obama's first and second terms. The official said that the US would not ask Israel to talk with a Palestinian unity government if Hamas did not commit to the Quartet's demands.
Please note: This page was updated at 10.58 GMT+1 April 30, 2014 to amend the source of the quote – it was quoted by Haaretz, and not the New York Times as previously stated