Secretary of State John Kerry plans to resume
his push for Israeli-Palestinian talks after a pause of several months, aides to the secretary said, even as questions mount over Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas’s actions.
Kerry came under heavy political fire this week following reports that he warned Israel is in danger of becoming an “apartheid” regime if it fails to reach agreement with the Palestinians on a “two-state solution” with an Israeli and Palestinian nation living side-by-side and in peace.
Aides to Kerry expressed confidence that the long-term need for peace would eventually convince both sides they have no choice to resume peace negotiations. But this optimism bumps up against reality on the ground – in particular, the agreement between Abbas and the jihadist Hamas organization to form a unity government and hold elections in the next six months.
Israel strongly objects to the inclusion of Hamas. The Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated group, which rules Gaza, has carried out scores of suicide bombings and other attacks over the past few decades and remains committed to Israel’s destruction.
"It's a blow to Israel. It's a blow to peace," Netanyahu said last week after the Abbas-Hamas deal was announced.
He warned that “the Palestinian people … took a huge step backward, away from peace, away from a good future for themselves."
"If [Abbas] continues with the pact with Hamas, he's essentially buried [peace]," Netanyahu told Fox News, calling Hamas "one of the preeminent terrorist organizations of our time."
For peace talks to resume, one of two things would have to happen, Netanyahu said. Either Hamas would have to recognize Israel’s right to exist or Abbas and his Fatah organization would have to repudiate Hamas.
Neither outcome appears very likely. Just days after Abbas declared he would not recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Palestinian Media Watch
, an Israeli organization that monitors the Palestinian media, reported that the ostensibly moderate Fatah posted on its Facebook page a declaration that its unity with Hamas was the unity between two terrorist groups.
“Men’s shoulders were created only to carry rifles. Either we will be mighty above the earth or we will be bones in it,” it read. “We will not surrender; we will win or die”.
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal vowed
Wednesday – one week after signing the unity pact with Abbas – that he will continue the holy war against Israel.
“Our path is resistance and the rifle, and our choice is jihad,” he said, adding that Palestinians need a joint strategy that will lead to the “liberation of our lands and holy sites and the return of the Palestinian refugees to their homes.”
Meanwhile, Israeli authorities announced
they had arrested seven members of a Hamas terrorist cell planning to carry out attacks in Israel. They included one Israeli Arab and West Bank Palestinians, who focused on acquiring homemade explosives and firearms to stage attacks.
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