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Tuesday, 22 October 2019

No talks with Palestinian government that includes armed Hamas, says Israel

AFP , Tuesday 17 Oct 2017
Benjamin Netanyahu
File Photo: Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
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Israel's government decided Tuesday not to negotiate with a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas if the Islamist movement does not disarm, recognise the country and give up violence.

The decision by the security cabinet, announced in a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office, comes after rival Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas signed a landmark unity deal last week aimed at ending their decade-long split.

The statement said negotiations would not be held until a range of conditions were met -- and it seemed unlikely that all demands could be reached.

"The government of Israel will not carry out political negotiations with a Palestinian government that relies on Hamas, a terror organisation which calls for the destruction of Israel, until it fulfils the following conditions," the statement said.

Beyond the initial three demands, it also said Hamas must no longer be supported by Iran, which provides it with military assistance.

In addition, it said the remains of two missing Israeli soldiers must be returned from the Gaza Strip to Israel.

Three Israeli civilians believed held in Gaza, all said to be mentally unstable, must also be returned, it said.

In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told AFP that the organisation would ignore such "blatant Zionist interventions in Palestinian issues."

"The response must be to continue to strengthen the internal Palestinian front, and complete the reconciliation in every file under what was agreed in the Cairo agreement," he added.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah, based in the occupied West Bank, and Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, signed the unity agreement in Cairo on Thursday.

Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina also dismissed the Israeli declaration.

"Israeli remarks will not change the official Palestinian position to move forward with reconciliation efforts and achieve the hopes and aspirations of our people," he said in a statement to official news agency WAFA.

"The international community, including the American administration, has welcomed the return of the Palestinian national authority to the Gaza Strip," he added.

The Abbas-led Palestine Liberation Organisation has recognised Israel, unlike Hamas.

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