The peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are going about as well as usual. Which is to say, not very well at all.
Israel walked out of talks today after the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced that his Fatah party, which controls the West Bank, and Hamas, which oversees the Gaza Strip, were going to form a unity government in the next five weeks. Israel regards Hamas as a terrorist group, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telling the BBC that Fatah can "have peace with Israel or a pact with Hamas - he can't have both"
"As long as I'm prime minister of Israel, I will never negotiate with a Palestinian government that is backed by Hamas terrorists that are calling for our liquidation," Netanyahu added.
But Hamas may not be calling for Israel's destruction anymore under the terms of its pact with Fatah. UN envoy Robert Sperry met with Abbas today, and reported:
President Abbas emphasized that these commitments include recognition of Israel, non-violence, and adherence to previous agreements. President Abbas also reiterated his continued commitment to peace negotiations and to non-violent popular protests.
(Update, April 27: After being inaccurately quoted in the Washington Post as saying that Hamas might recognize Israel, Tahir al-Nunu, a media advisor to Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of Gaza and leader of the area's Hamas party, is now saying that Hamas "could not" recognize Israel.)
As for America, Secretary of State John Kerry called Abbas today and "reiterated his disappointment" at the timing of the Fatah-Hamas pact -- five days before the deadline for the peace talks. Israel's foreign minister Avigdor Liberman said he thought Abbas made the deal with Hamas for the purpose of ending peace talks with Israel.
It remains to be seen if the Fatah-Hamas pact actually comes to anything. Since 2007, the rival factions have tried several times to reconcile and even signed pacts much like the current one, but nothing has come of them.
This article was originally published at http://www.thewire.com/global/2014/04/fatah-and-hamas-reconcile-agree-to-recognize-israel-which-then-walks-out-of-peace-talks/361203/
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