Israel’s Prime Minister called on world leaders today not to recognise the Palestinian unity government expected to be formed tomorrow because of its affiliation with the militant group Hamas.
Benjamin Netanyahu said the unity government will “strengthen terrorism” because Hamas calls for the destruction of Israel.
“The international community must not embrace it,” Mr Netanyahu said at the start of his weekly cabinet meeting.
The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says such fears are unfounded, vowing the government will be composed of apolitical technocrats and will recognise Israel and renounce violence.
The new government is meant to end a seven-year split between Hamas and Mr Abbas’s rival Palestinian movement, Fatah. While Hamas will not sit in the government, it has agreed to back it. Israel says Hamas, identified as a terrorist organisation by Israel and the West, cannot play any role in governing the Palestinians until it renounces violence.
The Palestinians have been divided between rival governments since Hamas took the Gaza Strip from Mr Abbas’s forces in 2007, leaving the Palestinian President in control only of autonomous areas of the West Bank. The rift is considered a major impediment to any future peace deal.
Repeated attempts at reconciliation have failed in the past. But both Palestinian factions now have incentives to repair ties. Hamas is in the midst of a major financial crisis due to a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt.