Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Associated Press on Tuesday that he is both “deeply disappointed” and “deeply troubled” by the US and EU’s recognition of the new Palestinian unity government.
“I’m deeply troubled by the announcement that the United States will work with the Palestinian government backed by Hamas,” Netanyahu said.
The news agency reported that Netanyahu had called the US to deliver the message to Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas that his reconciliation, which led to the formation of the unity government, is “unacceptable”.
“All those who genuinely seek peace must reject President Abbas’s 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… is simply unacceptable,” he said.
Netanyahu described the Palestinian unity government as being backed by a “terror group”, referring to the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which supports the cabinet headed by independent technocrats even though none of Hamas’s members is included.
But despite Netanyahu’s protestations, the US State Department publicly rejected on Tuesday his demand that Washington cut ties with the new Palestinian unity government.
“It is not a government backed by Hamas,” Israel’s Haaretz newspaper quoted US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf as saying. “There are no members of Hamas in the government.”
According to the Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu had also phoned French President Francoise Hollande to ask him to reject recognition of the Palestinian government.
He told the French president that the unity government was “a Palestinian step against peace and in favour of terrorism”.
Shortly afterwards, the French foreign ministry issued a statement that said: “France is ready to work with a Palestinian Authority government as long as it rejects violence, is committed to the peace process and respects all previous agreements, which implies recognising Israel.”
The EU, UK, Turkey, Russia, China and India also expressed support for the new Palestinian unity government, international media reported.
“We welcome the appointment of a government of independent personalities,” an EU statement said.
The statement also welcomed the declaration by Abbas that the government is committed to the principle of the two state solution based on the 1967 borders, to the recognition of Israel’s right to exist, to non-violence and to the respect all previous agreements.
It continued: “The EU’s engagement with the new Palestinian government will be based on its adherence to these policies and commitments.”
In addition, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon announced his support for the government.
His spokesperson said: “The United Nations has long underscored the need for progress towards Palestinian unity in line with existing resolutions, within the framework of the Palestinian Authority and the commitments of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.”
And the UK’s William Hague said: “Reuniting Gaza and the West Bank under a government committed to peace is a necessary condition for resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict.”
Meanwhile, Abbas’s spokesperson Nabil Abu-Rudeineh said that the international consensus over the new Palestinian government means recognition of Palestinian rights.
“Israel has to understand that the entire world refuses its policy,” Abu-Rudaineh said. “This is the time for Israel to recognise Palestinians’ historic rights,” Palestine’s official media reported.