Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has essentially said that peace in Israel is dead after Hamas and Fatah, two rival Palestinian groups, have brokered a peace agreement. Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel as a key component of its objectives, and Israel views this agreement as “killing peace.” The new agreement and prime minister’s comments tell a story opposite what the State Department is saying, that peace is possible and the U.S. still intends to stick with promoting peace in the region.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Thursday that a new agreement between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah is “killing peace,” even as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry voiced hope that talks could be salvaged.
The Israeli leader spoke with Fox News shortly after the Israeli government cut off Mideast peace talks. The Israelis halted negotiations over the announcement that terror group Hamas and Fatah would seek reconciliation.
In an interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier, Netanyahu stated that peace talks are “essentially buried” if Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas forges ahead with the agreement.
“It’s a blow to Israel; it’s a blow to peace,” he said. “It’s a terrible blow to the Palestinian people, because they must choose, too, whether they want to go forward or go backward. Yesterday, with the pact with Hamas, the Palestinian people went, took a huge step backward, away from peace, away from a good future for themselves.”
The grim comments seemed at odds with the tone taken in Washington by Kerry. He said the U.S., even now, isn’t ready to write off Mideast peace negotiations.
“There is always a way forward,” Kerry told reporters in brief remarks at the State Department. He noted Israeli and Palestinian leaders need to make necessary compromises, without which peace “becomes very elusive.”
But the “blow” to peace talks comes ahead of an April 29 deadline, and Netanyahu described the Fatah-Hamas unity agreement as a deal-breaker. The pact is undoubtedly a major setback for Kerry, who tried anew to restart the peace process after taking the reins at the State Department.
“If [Abbas] continues with the pact with Hamas, he’s essentially buried it,” Netanyahu told Fox News, calling Hamas “one of the preeminent terrorist organizations of our time.”
The Hamas-Fatah unity plan is meant to end a seven-year rift between the rival factions. But Israel objects to any participation in Palestinian politics by Hamas, an Islamic militant group sworn to Israel’s destruction. The group has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and other attacks over the past two decades.
Netanyahu, in the interview with Fox News, stressed that history when asked about Palestinian statements that he is using the pact as an excuse to back out of peace talks.