Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he would not accept the appointment of any minister, who did not publicly recognize Israel, in the upcoming Palestinian unity government.
“Any government must be committed to the agreements of the PLO,” Abbas told a delegation of Israeli ministers and lawmakers.
Abbas’ remarks, published in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, sparked a big debate. While Palestinian sources said the leaked comments were inaccurate, the presidency did not officially deny them.
Hamas has refrained from commenting on the statements, in order to avoid creating internal tensions at a time when preparations are underway to hand over the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian government as an important first step towards achieving reconciliation.
Last week Abbas described armed groups outside the Palestinian Authority’s military formations as militias. He said he would not accept their presence in Gaza, while Hamas declined to respond.
Well-informed Palestinian sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Hamas wanted to avoid an early confrontation.
“The movement has decided to avoid any tension because it wants reconciliation to succeed, and that in the end, it will not recognize Israel,” the sources said.
The leader of Hamas Movement in the Gaza Strip, Yehya al-Sinwar, has repeatedly stressed that the time of recognition of Israel has passed, “because our goal is to wipe it off the map.” He also said that the disarmament of Hamas was “the dream of the devil in Paradise.”
Sinwar’s comments came in response to an announcement by US President Donald Trump’s envoy, Jason Greenblatt, who said: “Any Palestinian government must commit to renounce violence and recognize the State of Israel, accept previous agreements and commitments signed by the parties, including the disarmament of terrorists and commitment to peaceful negotiations.”
Fatah sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that any government would abide by the PLO’s commitments, “but no one would ask Hamas, as a movement, to recognize Israel.”
“Any future government will be the government of President Mahmoud Abbas, and the Americans and Israelis are aware of this, and they know that not every government is required to recognize [Israel], because this is a matter for the state, and in our case the PLO has recognized it,” the sources said.
Abbas told his Israeli guests that American officials had assured him that they would declare their support for a two-state solution.
However, the Palestinian president accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of foiling attempts to resume Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
“Netanyahu does not want to renew the peace process, he thinks I will stay here and guard the occupation,” he stated.