JERUSALEM — Israel has condemned Palestinian plans to inaugurate a controversial new government this week.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called on the international community not to recognize the new Palestinian unity government that is due to be formed on Monday.
The new government includes the secular Palestinian Authority that controls much of the West Bank and the rival Islamic militant group Hamas that rules the Gaza Strip.
Speaking at the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said the world must not embrace this government.
“Hamas is a terrorist organization that seeks Israel’s destruction,” he said.
Such a government “would not bolster peace,” Netanyahu said, “it would strengthen terror.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas decided to end a seven-year rift with Hamas after peace talks with Israel collapsed a month ago. Hamas opposes peace negotiations and does not recognize Israel’s right to exist. But Abbas says his peace policies will remain the official position of the government.
Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat says it is a golden opportunity to bring Hamas into the peace process.
“You have an opportunity to have one authority, one gun, the rule of law, a government with a program of two states recognizing Israel, renouncing violence,” he said.
President Abbas says Israel has already informed him it will boycott the new Palestinian government.
Like Israel, the United States considers Hamas to be a terrorist organization. But America is taking a wait-and-see approach. The State Department says it will study the composition of the new government and then determine if it is one the United States can work with, or not.
Israel froze U.S.-brokered peace talks with Abbas when the unity deal was announced on April 23 after numerous unsuccessful attempts at Palestinian reconciliation since Hamas seized the Gaza Strip from Fatah forces in fighting in 2007.
Some information for this report provided by Reuters.