Israel Suspends Talks After PA Embraces Unrepentant Hamas

Efforts to extend the Middle East peace talks under the auspices of American Secretary of State John Kerry were undermined earlier this week when the Fatah faction headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reached a unity agreement with the terrorist organization Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip. The deal prompted State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki to state that “it’s hard to see how Israel can be expected to negotiate with a government that does not believe in its right to exist.”

In the wake of these developments, Israel announced today suspension of talks with the Palestinian Authority that were intended to extend negotiations past the April 29 deadline set by Kerry for a framework agreement between the sides.

The Times of Israel quotes Israel’s chief negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni:

“First of all, the decision to suspend the talks is a correct decision,” she said in an interview with Channel 2, soon after the Netanyahu government announced the suspension of peace negotiations.

“It may be that for Abu Mazen [Abbas], Hamas is [a] political [entity],” she said. “For us, and for the entire world, it is a designated terror organization that does not recognize our existence, and acts against civilians through terror [activities].” Israel “cannot act like all is business as usual, when it is not,” she said, given the new alliance announced Wednesday between Abbas’s Fatah faction and Hamas.

The Quartet – the United Nations Secretary-General, United States Secretary of State, Foreign Minister of Russia, and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy – stated explicitly that recognition of Israel, acceptance of previous agreements, and renunciation of violence are non-negotiable elements of an eventual peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. 

It is the view of the Quartet that all members of a future Palestinian government must be committed to nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Roadmap. We urge both parties to respect their existing agreements, including on movement and access.
By embracing Hamas, Fatah and Abbas have rejected these internationally recognized building blocks of peace. Despite this betrayal of the peace process, Minister Livni said she would not “close the door” on an eventual return to negotiations if Palestinian actions warranted.

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