Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has reportedly said he would not appoint officials from the resistance movement Hamas to his cabinet if they did not openly and publicly recognize Israel.
Abbas made the remarks in a meeting with former Israeli lawmakers visiting his party’s headquarters in Ramallah on Sunday, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported, citing a member of the delegation.
Earlier this month, Hamas reached a national reconciliation deal with Abbas’s Fatah party with the aim of ending a decade-long political rift mainly over the governance of the Gaza Strip.
The deal has enraged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has said the Israeli regime would not accept “imaginary appeasement where the Palestinian side is reconciling at the expense of our existence.”
After the deal was reached, Netanyahu demanded that the new government recognize Israel, dismantle the military wing of Hamas and cut ties with Iran.
The US has echoed the demand, saying any Palestinian government must “unambiguously and explicitly” adhere to certain “basic requirements,” namely recognizing Israel.
Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, has said the organization will not disarm, recognize Israel or cut off ties with Iran. “The discussion is no longer about recognizing Israel but about wiping Israel out,” he said this month.
Fatah and Hamas have been at odds ever since the latter scored a landslide victory in Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006.
Since 2007, Hamas has been governing Gaza, with Fatah based in the autonomous parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The two rival Palestinian factions finally agreed on a unity government in April 2014, but it fell apart months later.
In his Sunday’s remarks, Abbas criticized Netanyahu for preventing progress toward peace, Haaretz reported.
According to one member of the Israeli delegation, Abbas “was very agitated” and said Israel would not allow progress toward a solution which envisaged the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
“Netanyahu doesn’t want to renew the peace process, he thinks I’m going to stay here and guard the occupation,” Abbas reportedly said.