US says Hamas must disarm before joining Palestinian government

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The Trump administration has insisted that Hamas disarm and recognise Israel if they are to play any role in a Palestinian unity government.

US Special Representative for International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, released a statement yesterday insisting that “any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to non-violence, recognise the State of Israel, accept previous agreements and obligations between the parties – including to disarm terrorists – and commit to peaceful negotiations”.

“If Hamas is to play any role in a Palestinian government, it must accept these basic requirements,” he continued.

Addressing the situation in Gaza, Greenblatt said it was “essential that the Palestinian Authority be able to assume full, genuine, and unhindered civil and security responsibilities in Gaza and that we work together to improve the humanitarian situation for Palestinians living there”.

Greenblatt’s statement was welcomed by the Israeli Government. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had “made it clear that every Palestinian government has to be committed to these principles. We want true peace, and for this reason we won’t negotiate with a terror organisation in political costume”.

Jewish Home leader and Education Minister Naftali Bennett congratulated Greenblatt and the US Administration for their “clear message”.

However, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar responded that that “no one will disarm us. No one can disarm Hamas”. In a defiant tone, he added: “Gone is the time in which Hamas discussed recognition of Israel. The discussion now is about when we will wipe out Israel.” Sinwar recently revealed that Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif conceded that their military capability has now fully recovered since the last conflict with Israel in 2014.

On Wednesday Israel published a list of conditions for any peace negotiations with a Palestinian government in which Hamas is a part. They included the total disarmament of Hamas, adherence to the Quartet principles and the recognition of Israel.