“I refuse to allow the future Palestinian state to become a missile base like Gaza and Lebanon,” says the prime minister • Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman estimates peace deal won’t be achieved “in the coming decade” • Lieberman slams Europe for failing to stop Iran and doing nothing more than “placate Israel.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared on Sunday that he would refuse to negotiate with a Palestinian government that included representatives of the Islamist terrorist group Hamas.
Netanyahu made the remarks just days after Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo to discuss the restructuring of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Palestinian umbrella body whose largest faction is Abbas’ Fatah, so as to include Hamas.
Speaking to Israeli diplomats in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said “if Hamas joins the Palestinian government, I will not hold peace negotiations. Progress would have to be made in keeping with the current security arrangements, which are getting more and more difficult to maintain in light of the regional turmoil.”
“I refuse to allow a future Palestinian state to become a missile base pointing missiles at central Israel, the way it happened with Gaza and Lebanon,” the prime minister continued. “The Palestinians will have to recognize Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people. This is not a precondition for negotiations, but it will have to happen eventually.”
Hamas and Fatah have long been political rivals. Tensions between the two factions erupted into a brief civil war in 2007, when Hamas violently seized control over Gaza, leaving Fatah in control of only the West Bank. In April, Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement, but it remains largely unenforced.
On Sunday, some 100 Israeli ambassadors returned from their posts around the globe to participate in a diplomatic think tank with Israel’s leadership. “Take Alan Dershowitz’s articles and disseminate them to all the world,” Netanyahu suggested to the group.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also addressed the ambassadors, estimating that there will not be any peace agreement with the Palestinians for at least “the coming decade.”
“Do I see a possibility of a sustainable peace deal between us and the Palestinians? My answer is yes,” he said, adding “but not before a healthy and influential middle class thrives within the Palestinian Authority, and not before the gross domestic product in the Palestinian Authority reaches $15,000 and not before the general outlook changes.”
The foreign minister also criticized Europe for not doing enough to curb Iran’s nuclear trajectory. “Some European nations and senior officials there are talking about sanctions – more to placate Israel than to stop Iran’s nuclear program,” Lieberman said. “There is no need to placate us. Any decision we make will be level-headed and calculated.”
Lieberman also dismissed European criticism over a recent spike in “price-tag” attacks – attacks perpetrated by settlers targeting Palestinian property, as well as the IDF, in retribution for government policies perceived as targeting settlers and illegal West Bank outposts – saying
“we have nothing to apologize for – on the contrary. Israel’s democracy has nothing to be ashamed of in comparison with any European democracy, even the magnificent British democracy, and we do not need any advice on how to handle lawbreakers in Judea and Samaria or anywhere else for that matter.”