Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu vowed on Thursday that he will not negotiate with the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it is part of a unity government with the Hamas terrorist group.
Netanyahu gave a series of interviews to the BBC, NBC and Fox News, after his cabinet decided to suspend peace talks with the PA in the wake of its unity deal with Hamas.
"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 told the BBC.
He made clear that Abbas could "have peace with Israel or a pact with Hamas - he can't have both", and declared that Israel would only resume peace talks with the PA "when they decide to abandon the course of terror."
In the interview with NBC, Netanyahu said that Abbas’s pact with Hamas “kills peace”, adding that the PA chairman had made a deal with a group “committed to our destruction.”
“No go,” Netanyahu told the network. “I think the pact with Hamas kills peace. If it moves forward, it means peace moves backward.”
“He can’t have it both ways,” Netanyahu said of Abbas. “He has to choose: Peace with Israel or a pact with Hamas.”
To Fox News, the Prime Minister said that the Hamas-Fatah pact was “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."
Meanwhile, Abbas said on Thursday evening that there was no need for Israel to halt talks and impose sanctions on the PA, because the deal with Hamas does not contradict any previous agreements with Israel, nor does it obviate the basic principles of negotiations.
Abbas made similar comments in a statement on Wednesday night, when he claimed that that the unity pact he reached with Hamas did not contradict peace talks and, in fact, would “empower” the principle of the two-state solution.
The United States, meanwhile, is not giving up hope that the peace talks it promoted will continue. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday evening responded to the suspension of peace talks and called for "compromises" from both sides.
"There's always a way forward, but the leaders have to make the compromises to do that... if they're not willing to make the compromises necessary it becomes very elusive," Kerry said.