The Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, has blasted the US of “blatant interference” in Palestinian affairs after Washington said the Gaza-based group should disarm under an emerging Palestinian unity government.
On Thursday morning, US President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, said any Palestinian government must, among other things, recognize Israel and disarm Hamas, which has defended Gaza against three bloody Israeli wars over the past decade.
In response to the comments, senior Hamas official Bassem Naim accused the US government of “blatant interference in Palestinian affairs,” stressing that “it is the right of our people to choose its government according to their supreme strategic interests.”
Naim said Greenblatt was bowing to pressure from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing administration.
“This statement comes under pressure from the extreme right-wing Netanyahu government and is in line with the Netanyahu statement from two days ago,” he added.
Naim was referring to a Tuesday statement by Netanyahu’s cabinet, saying Tel Aviv would not engage in negotiations with a future Palestinian unity government that has the backing of Hamas.
Both rival Palestinian factions, Hamas and Ramallah-based Fatah, were quick to brush off Netanyahu’s threats, with the Palestinian Authority (PA) saying such a hostile stance would not affect the nation’s resolve to pursue its goals.
Fatah Party, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas have been at odds ever since the latter scored a landslide victory in Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006. Hamas governs the Gaza Strip while Fatah has set up offices in the West Bank.
Last week, however, Fatah and Hamas signed a provisional unity agreement in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, in which the latter agreed to dissolve its administrative committee in Gaza.
Following a fresh round of Egypt-brokered unity talks, rival Palestinian factions reach a unity deal that would end a 10-year political rifts between them.
The ongoing Hamas-Fatah negotiations are taking place within the framework of a 2011 agreement between the two sides, under which 3,000 Fatah security officers would join a Gaza police force over the course of a year.
Under that deal, Hamas’ 25,000-strong armed wing, Ezzedine al-Qassam, which has defended Gaza against three deadly Israeli wars over the past decade, would maintain its position.
The resistance group has said the force is non-negotiable.