Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says that if Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas “gives Hamas a divorce”, he would be willing to resume peace negotiations with him.
Speaking to Channel 10 News in an interview to air Saturday night and of which excerpts were published on Friday, Netanyahu said that Operation Protective Edge in Gaza brought with it a new diplomatic opportunity.
"Today there may be a reality that allows us to act on the one hand to promote our security interests and on the one hand start a responsible diplomatic process based on the new reality," said the Prime Minister. However, he stressed that it is "early to say this, but not early to look into it and I am.”
Netanyahu reiterated, as he has many times in the past, that Abbas would need to choose between peace with Israel and Hamas, but hinted that if Abbas chooses not to go with Hamas, he will be ready to work towards a peace agreement.
"If Abu Mazen will choose the path of peace, and I think he realizes now that he should choose to do so with Hamas not only calling for our destruction, but also calling for his overthrow, in fact they actually tried to overthrow him," Netanyahu said, referring to Hamas’s plan for a large-scale coup of Abbas's new PA government that was foiled by Israel.
Asked whether the 50 days of Operation Protective Edge convinced him that Abbas is the only possible partner for peace in the region, Netanyahu said that he hopes to cooperate with Abbas.
"I hope that we can also cooperate with Abbas in the diplomatic process," the Prime Minister told Channel 10.
"If I had to choose whether I want Hamas in Judea and Samaria or Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, I would choose the latter,” he added.
Abbas, he added "will have to choose between peace with Israel or Hamas, it's one or the other.”
“Abbas understands that this group was trying to topple him and we exposed it," Netanyahu said, adding that he "can only hope that Abbas will give Hamas a divorce."
Netanyahu’s remarks follow several calls on him to renew the peace process following the long-term ceasefire that was reached in Gaza earlier this week.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced hope earlier this week that the ceasefire will set the stage for talks on a final peace deal.
Similar remarks were made by the European Union, which welcomed the long-term ceasefire and called for more talks to bring a "comprehensive and sustainable agreement."
Abbas, meanwhile, is continuing his unilateral steps to achieve statehood through the UN, in a direct violation of the Oslo Accords.
Abbas’s aides said this week that the PA chairman plans to turn to the international community to set a deadline for Israel to withdraw back to the pre-1967 borders and make way for an independent Palestinian state.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)