December 19, 2014
Netanyahu urges Abbas to choose between Hamas or peace with Israel
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cautioned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas over just-revived unity talks with Hamas, saying he had to choose between peace with Israel or its Islamist enemy.
Amplifying Netanyahu's warning, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Abbas's signature on a unity accord with Hamas would be tantamount to "signing the termination of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority".
Delegates from Hamas and Abbas's Fatah party-led Palestine Liberation Organisation held a fence-mending session yesterday in the Gaza Strip, their first since a 2007 conflict in which forces loyal to the Western-backed leader lost control of the enclave to the militant group, an opponent of peace with Israel.
"Does he (Abbas) want peace with Hamas or peace with Israel?," Netanyahu said in remarks to the press as reports of a possible unity deal emerged. "You can have one but not the other. I hope he chooses peace. So far he hasn't done so," he added.
Lieberman, in turn, said Abbas, who heads the Palestinian Authority that exercises limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank, "cannot make peace both with Israel and Hamas, a terrorist organisation that calls for Israel's destruction."