There is no need for Israel to halt talks and impose sanctions on the Palestinian Authority because of the deal it signed with Hamas, PA chief Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday night – because the deal does not contradict any previous agreements with Israel, nor does it obviate the basic principles of negotiations.
Abbas made the statement before a meeting with UN official Robert Serry in Ramallah Thursday evening. It was the PA's first official response to the announcement earlier that Israel was suspending peace talks with the Palestinians in the wake of the unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas.
According to Abbas, the deal with Hamas specifically outlines the same positions the PA has maintained throughout negotiations with Israel: a Palestinian state in all areas liberated by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War, with its capital in Jerusalem. Hamas has agreed to this, Abbas said, and has agreed to allowing Abbas and his chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, to continue the negotiations.
Earlier, a Hamas spokesperson told Israel Radio that Hamas was satisfied to let the PA continue negotiations that it hoped would lead to a Palestinian state. Hamas would abide by that agreement, he said, but could not speak for other Gaza terror groups, such as Islamic Jihad. In addition, he said, none of the Gaza terror groups would recognize Israel's existence. “We can have an agreement without recognizing Israel. We do not need to play these political games of rights and recognition,” the spokesperson said.
Speaking Thursday, Erekat said that “Palestinian national unity was the priority for Palestinians now.” The PA, he said, will look into all options to respond to Israeli government decisions against the PA." Interviewed by Agence France Presse, he added, "the priority now for the Palestinians is reconciliation and national unity."
A security cabinet meeting on Thursday decided to suspend the talks following a unity deal reached between the PA and Hamas on Wednesday. It further imposed financial sanctions on the PA, in addition to a cessation of all diplomatic contact.