The Israeli government immediately condemned the move. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told PA president Mahmoud Abbas that ‘he cannot have it both ways and that he must make a choice between a pact with Hamas and peace with Israel’.
Palestinians across the political spectrum were divided in their reactions. Some, among them Hamas leaders, harshly criticized the agreement as a violation of the Palestinian Basic Law, mainly because of the intention to appoint Abbas as the new prime minister instead of Salam Fayad.
Some Palestinian social media even mocked the intended appointment of Abbas. A writer on the Paltimes website put it this way:
“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas congratulates the new prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, and invites him to meet with the chairman of the Fatah Central Committee, Mahmoud Abbas, under the auspices of the head of the PLO Executive Committee, Mahmoud Abbas, at the home of the Overall Commander of the Palestinian Armed Forces, Mahmoud Abbas.”
The most puzzling reaction however, came from the European Union. Michael Mann, a spokesman for EU commissioner Catherine Ashton, welcomed the unity agreement as follows:
“The EU has consistently called for intra-Palestinian reconciliation behind President Mahmud Abbas as an important element for the unity of a future Palestinian state and for reaching a two-state solution,”
“The EU looks forward to continuing its support, including through direct financial assistance, for a new Palestinian government that should uphold the principle of non-violence,”
The new government should also remain committed to achieving a two-state solution with Israel, “and to a negotiated peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict accepting previous agreements and obligations, including Israel’s legitimate right to exist,”
As Ashton knows very well, Hamas will become part of the unity government.
Only yesterday Izzat al-Risqh, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, reiterated that the Doha agreement does not mean that Hamas will change its positions on Israel:
“The Palestinian people maintain their right to all forms of resistance, and we are
committed to armed resistance and activation of the popular resistance to
confront the enemy, and will not abandon any form of resistance at all”, al-Risqh said.
Hamas PM Ishmael Haniyeh, during his recent trip in the Middle East, repeated that his organization aims to destroy Israel and called for “the liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea”.
As a member of the Quartet the EU ascribed to the three conditions for normalization of the relations with Hamas.
These conditions are:
1. Hamas must renounce violence.
2. Hamas must recognize Israel’s right to exist.
3. Hamas must adhere to past agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.
It is obvious that Hamas has not met these conditions at all.
Therefore the new Hamas/Fatah unity government will not be committed to the “negotiated peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict accepting previous agreements and obligations, including Israel’s legitimate right to exist’, the EU envisions.
If the European Union truly wants to contribute to the resolution of the Palestinian Israeli conflict, it should begin with sticking to its own principles.
Mid East peace, based on the two state solution, will remain a pipe dream as long as Hamas will not change it policies, and as long as foreign interlocutors like the EU do not acknowledge the roots of the conflict and confront Palestinian belligerence, intransigence and duplicity.