Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday criticised the reconciliation agreement reached between Hamas and Fatah, according to which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will head a unity caretaker cabinet. ”Hamas is a terrorist organisation that wants to destroy Israel and is supported by Iran,” Netanyahu said at a Likud meeting. “Israel had made great efforts to advance the peace process. If Abbas realises what was signed in Doha it shows that he is choosing to abandon the path of peace and join with Hamas, without Hamas accepting the minimal conditions of the international community,” the PM added.
The Doha accords, signed in Qatar by Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal, ends haggling over the identity of the Palestinian prime minister, a dispute that had held back a nine-month-old unity agreement. The deal will have Abbas succeed Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, a respected economist who won the praise and confidence of international donors by heading state-building projects that stressed infrastructure development and economic reform. Hamas opposed the continued prime ministership of Fayyad and demanded a prime minister from its base in the Gaza Strip. Fayyad, in a statement, welcomed the agreement.
However, in order for the agreement to be implemented, significant obstacles still need to be overcome. The sides are yet to agree the makeup of the cabinet or a date for new elections.
US officials yesterday took a cautious view of a possible accord between the Palestinian factions, fearing the deal would impede future peace talks with Israel. US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said US “red lines” concerning Palestinian governance remain unchanged. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon later urged Abbas not to abandon talks with Israel. The UN chief, in a phone call to Abbas, said that “the two tracks” of Palestinian reconciliation and negotiations with Israel “should not be seen as contradictory”, Mr Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky said.