Palestinian unity government will recognize Israel: Abbas

RAMALLAH, West Bank Sat Apr 26, 2014 2:28pm EDT

Arab League Chief Nabil al-Arabi (L) greets Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who waves to the media, before attending an Arab Foreign Ministers' meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo April 9, 2014. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

Arab League Chief Nabil al-Arabi (L) greets Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who waves to the media, before attending an Arab Foreign Ministers' meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo April 9, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Asmaa Waguih

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RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signaled on Saturday that he remains committed to troubled U.S.-backed peace talks, saying that any unity government agreed with the militant group Hamas would recognize Israel.

Abbas's comments appeared aimed at soothing U.S. concerns about the unity deal he reached on Wednesday with Hamas, an Islamist faction sworn to Israel's destruction and designated by the West as a terrorist organization.

Israel suspended peace negotiations with Abbas after the reconciliation pact, and the United States said it would reconsider annual aid to the Palestinians worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

"The government would be under my command and my policy," Abbas told senior leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) at his presidential headquarters in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.

"Its purview will be what happens domestically. I recognize Israel and it would recognize Israel. I reject violence and terrorism," he said.

The deal between Hamas and Abbas's Fatah party envisions agreement on a government of independent technocrats within five weeks and elections at least six months later.

Hamas's opposition to Israel does not necessarily contradict Abbas's position, as both sides have agreed that the unity government will not include Hamas members but be comprised of technocrats.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ruled out talks with such a government.

"That's the oldest trick in the book. It's called the front office-back office gambit," he said, in which "shady organizations" put forward "smooth-talking frontmen - the men in suits," Netanyahu said in an interview with MSNBC on Thursday,

"We will not sit and negotiate with a Palestinian government that is backed by Hamas in which Hamas has effective share of power," Netanyahu said.

Hamas on Saturday said it would not change its stance on Israel. "The recognition of Israel by the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, is not new. What is important is that Hamas did not and will never recognize Israel," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters.

Abbas seeks a Palestinian state in Gaza, the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in a 1967 war.

Hamas, which seized control of Gaza from Abbas's secular Fatah in a brief 2007 civil war, retains thousands of fighters and an arsenal of rockets. It has fought repeated battles with Israel since it took control of the enclave.

A senior U.S. official said on Thursday that a unity government formed with Hamas could call into question some $500 million in their annual security and budget aid to Abbas.

A future Palestinian government must "unambiguously and explicitly commit to non-violence, recognition of the state of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations between the parties," the official told Reuters.

WILLING TO EXTEND TALKS

Hamas and Fatah have in recent years agreed similar unity deals, that were not eventually implemented. Israeli lawmaker Tzachi Hanegbi, a confidant of Netanyahu, said on Saturday that such a scenario was likely and that it left the door open for talks to resume.

"If the agreement falls through then we come back, the Palestinians know what the Israeli-American proposal is (for restarting negotiations), it can be decided on and talks can be renewed," Hanegbi told Channel Two's Meet the Press.

The Israeli-Palestinian peace talks had shown little sign of progress since they began in July and the United States had been struggling in the past few weeks to extend negotiations beyond an original April 29 deadline for a peace accord.

Abbas said he was open to resuming the talks and pushing on beyond the deadline, as long as Israel met long-standing demands to free prisoners and halt settlement building on occupied land.

"How can we restart the talks? There's no obstacle to us restarting the talks but the 30 prisoners need to be released," Abbas said. "We will present our map ... until the map is agreed upon, all settlement activity must cease completely," he said.

But an Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Abbas was "recycling previous terms he knows Israel has not accepted, after he had, time and again in the past month, refused to move forward in the negotiations."

Talks veered toward collapse after Israel failed to release a final group of Palestinian prisoners it had promised to free in March, and after Abbas signed several international treaties, which Israel said was a unilateral move towards statehood.

The peace talks resumed in July after a three-year deadlock. The two sides were at odds over Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, activity most countries deem illegal, and over Abbas's refusal to accept a demand by Netanyahu that he recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

(Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza and Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Stephen Powell)

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Comments (37)
VultureTX wrote:
What does building permits in settlements have to do with the map, turns out nothing. The actual size of the settlements does not change with all those new permits; the number of jews living there does.

/so all the settlement freeze hysteria for the last year would have no effect on the boundaryies of a Palestinian nation.

//no whether either side would swap land to try to come up with contiguous borders is another question, but it not about building permits in the settlements.

///so Abbas just what did the negotiations accomplish so far? if you got your map , why did you not just propose this is palestine and be done with it? because you wanted land you will never get and was never owned by palestine.

Apr 26, 2014 9:36am EDT  --  Report as abuse
VultureTX wrote:
okay the reuters guy re-wrote his submission.

“(AGI) Ramallah, April 26 – Palestinians will never recognise Israel as the ‘Jewish’ state, president Mahmud Abbas said on Saturday, when his leadership convened after Israel halted peace talks. Abbas told members of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s Central Council that although they had recognised Israel in 1993, the Palestinians should not be forced to go a step further and recognise Israel’s religious identity.”

So yesterday Abbas says the opposite, if you claim that he is consistent, then why is Palestine an Islamic Nation under islamic law, check out the Palestinian Charter.
Abu Mazzen Natural Born Hypocrite.

Apr 26, 2014 10:42am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Gaius_Baltar wrote:
Why should the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state when the only purpose of that demand is to allow Israel to expel the Palestinian Untermenschen from Israel’s Lebensraum? Once the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Israel will finish ethnically cleansing all goys, including Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Shaolm!

Apr 26, 2014 10:52am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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