TEL AVIV – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party has denied a report citing Israeli politicians as saying that Abbas will not appoint Hamas figures to a new unity government if they do not publicly recognize Israel.
According to Haaretz, Abbas made his remarks on Sunday at a meeting with 12 ex-Israeli lawmakers who visited him in Ramallah.
On Monday, Abbas’ Fatah party released a statement saying: “The presidency denies the remarks attributed to the president by Haaretz.”
Haaretz quoted Abbas telling the delegation that “the Americans have assured him they will announce their support for a two-state solution soon.”
The PA chairman also said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has no interest in returning to the negotiating table.
“Netanyahu doesn’t want to renew the peace process, he thinks I’m going to stay here and guard the occupation,” Abbas said.
The PA is set to take over civilian control of the Gaza Strip in December following a reconciliation deal reached earlier this month between Fatah and the Hamas terror group.
Netanyahu stated that before he will deal with any unity government Hamas must renounce terrorism, disarm, recognize the Jewish state and cut all relations with Iran. The U.S. Special Negotiator to the Middle East echoed the first two of these demands, saying the Palestinian government must adhere to these “basic requirements.”
While on a recent visit to Tehran, Hamas deputy chief Salah al-Arouri rejected all three preconditions outlined by the prime minister.
Regarding recognizing Israel, Al-Arouri said, “We’re not in the stage of recognition; rather we are now in the stage of preparing to eliminate the Zionist entity.” As for cutting ties with Iran, he said, “Our visit to Tehran is our practical rejection to the Israeli demand to cut ties with it.”
Two days earlier, Hamas’ Gaza-based Prime Minister Yahya Sinwar said, “No one in the universe can disarm us. On the contrary, we will continue to have the power to protect our citizens.”
“Over is the time Hamas spent discussing recognizing Israel. Now Hamas will discuss when we will wipe out Israel,” Sinwar added, according to the Hamas-linked news agency Shehab.