Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called on the international community not to recognise a new Palestinian government that includes both the Fatah and Hamas factions.
Days after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas confirmed an academic and university president as his new prime minister, Netanyahu was at pains to warn that any new government that including Hamas would “only strengthen terror”.
Addressing his cabinet, he said: “Hamas is a terrorist organisation that calls for Israel’s destruction, and the international community must not embrace it.”
However, Netanyahu’s call for support appeared to fall on deaf ears, with no sign that the European Union would reverse its position of welcoming a united Palestinian government supported by democratic elections.
Meanwhile, Abbas seemed braced for an Israeli response, saying that he fully expected Netanyahu to withhold tax revenue from the Palestinian Authority, something last seen in 2012 after Ramallah orchestrated a UN statehood bid.
In addition, Palestinian ministers were blocked from travelling between Gaza and the West Bank on Sunday, in a move seemingly designed to forestall the swearing in of a new government after five weeks of negotiations.
Israel has already said that it will not negotiate with a government comprising Hamas, but even before reconciliation it had broken off talks with Mahmoud Abbas after failing to release a final batch of Palestinian prisoners.