Israel Won't Recognize 'Palestinian Unity Gov't'

Netanyahu says recognition of 'unity government' between Hamas-PLO contingent on recognition of Israel as the Jewish homeland.

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Netanyahu speaks at cabinet meeting
Netanyahu speaks at cabinet meeting
Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday Israel would not negotiate with a "Palestinian unity government" unless Hamas declares it recognizes Israel.

Netanyahu said the preferable course of action to get peace negotiations back on track would be for Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas to renounce Hamas, the Islamist movement whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel and encourages the murder of Jews as a religious obligation.    

"Either Hamas disavows the destruction of Israel and embraces peace and denounces terror or president Abbas renounces Hamas," Netanyahu said, speaking on CNN's State of the Union.  

"If one of those things happened, we could get back to the peace negotiations. I hope he renounces Hamas and gets back to the peace table, as I've just said. The ball is in his court," he said.    

Netanyahu suspended faltering peace talks with the PA last week after Abbas and Hamas agreed to form a unity government.  

Netanyahu's comments came after Abbas, in a speech Saturday to PLO leaders, said his unity government with Hamas would reject violence and abide by existing agreements. 

Abbas also on Sunday declared that the Holocaust was "the most heinous crime" against humanity in the modern era, his strongest remarks yet on the Nazi genocide.

In a separate interview on CBS "Face the Nation," Netanyahu said he was "shocked" when Abbas announced the pact with Hamas, and dismissed his comments on the Holocaust.    

"I think it's an overture to American public opinion, to world put opinion to try to placate and somehow smooth over the fact that he made a terrible step away from peace," he said.    

"He made a giant leap backwards, away from pace, because he embraced Hamas that calls for the extermination of Jews worldwide," he said.  

"So, you know, you can say nice things or even significant things about the Holocaust, but you can't embrace those who deny the Holocaust and are asking to commit another Holocaust," he added.

Arutz Sheva Staff contributed to this report.