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PM: We'll Take Peace With Just Half the Palestinians

In an interview in Japan, Binyamin Netanyahu said that, if necessary, Israel was prepared to make peace with the PA even if Hamas remains.
By Yaakov Levi
First Publish: 5/15/2014, 11:27 AM

Binyamin Netanyahu and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe
Binyamin Netanyahu and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe
Flash 90

In an interview with Japanese media Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that he was asked by US Secretary of State John Kerry if Israel was prepared to make peace with only half of the Palestinians – and Netanyahu said that, for lack of a better option, Israel was prepared to do so.

“Kerry asked me if I could make peace with the Palestinian Authority alone, even though it does not rule all the Palestinians,” Netanyahu told Tokyo newspaper Mainichi Shimbun, referring to the control of Gaza by the Hamas terror group. “I said I could. I would be prepared for a deal with the part of the Palestinian people who were prepared to make peace with us,” he said.

Unfortunately, PA chief Mahmoud Abbas had made that option much more difficult, after entering into a unity deal with Hamas last month. “National unity for peace is a good thing, but a treaty with Hamas that calls for the destruction of Israel, and that promotes terror, is a bad thing. Abbas must decided between peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. I hope he will choose Israel.” Netanyahu is set to return to Israel after five days in Japan.

On Wednesday night, Kerry met with Abbas in London. In a statement, a senior State Department official said that “Secretary Kerry made clear that while the door remains open to peace, it is up to the parties to determine whether they are willing to take the steps necessary to resume negotiations.” Kerry, who is in London for talks on Syria on Thursday, "reiterated the need for any Palestinian government to recognise Israel, commit to non-violence, and abide by previous agreements," the US official said. He also "urged both sides to refrain from unhelpful steps."

Justice Minister Tzippy Livni, who is in charge of talks with the PA, is set to meet Kerry Thursday in London.

Israel suspended peace talks last month, after Abbas approached terrorist organization Hamas for a surprise unity pact. Unity elections are said to be planned for late May. 

The White House consistently fosters denial over the collapse of talks, and is still assessing whether to salvage the operation - despite the rumored dismantling of the US negotiating team, the PA's unity pact with Hamas, and Israel's refusal to negotiate with terrorists.

Washington has branded Hamas a terrorist organization since 1993 and has said it must recognize Israel and renounce violence. Top US officials have already warned that a unity government including Hamas members risks seeing a freeze in millions of dollars of US aid; under US law it is forbidden for US funds to be given to blacklisted foreign terrorist groups.

However, the international community has not seemed to reject Abbas himself over the pact with Hamas - despite the fact that Hamas has both been vying for control over the unity government and refused to renounce terror against Israel.