Netanyahu asks world leaders not to recognize Palestinian unity government

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on world leaders to be circumspect in their recognition of the new Palestinian unity government, saying it will increase terrorism.

“I call on all responsible elements in the international community not to run to recognize the Palestinian government of which Hamas is a part and which rests on Hamas. Hamas is a terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of Israel and the international community must not embrace it. This will not strengthen peace; it will strengthen terrorism,” Netanyahu said Sunday at the start of the regular weekly Cabinet meeting.

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last week asked current P.A. Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to head a national unity government made up of the Hamas and Fatah parties.

The new government, which is temporary until new elections are held in both the West Bank and Gaza, is expected to be officially announced on Monday.

Israel reportedly has denied the request of three to-be-appointed Palestinian ministers to travel from Gaza to the West Bank through Israeli territory for Monday’s announcement in Ramallah of the new Palestinian government.

Abbas said on Saturday during a meeting in Ramallah with pro-Palestinian activists from abroad that Israel has threatened to boycott the new government.

“They are going to withhold our money,” Abbas said, referring to the monthly transfer of about $100 million in taxes and customs that Israel collects for the PA. “This is our money, not aid from Israel, and we will not stay silent. They want to punish us because we have an agreement with Hamas, which is part of our people.”

“We are going to react to any Israeli action,” Abbas said.

The U.S. State Department on Friday said that the Obama administration had not yet officially recognized a new Palestinian unity government and that Hamdallah has not been invited to the White House to meet with U.S. officials, despite claims by Palestinian authorities.

“There has been no invitation issued to Prime Minister Hamdallah. As we’ve said all along, we’ll not make decisions until we see the final formation of the interim government and have the opportunity to assess and make a determination about whether this is a government we can work with. And we will base that assessment on the government’s composition, policies, and actions. So we’ll have to take a look when any official announcement is made,” State Department spokesman Jen Psaki said during a briefing with reporters.