US says Palestinian unity govt must recognise Israel, disarm Hamas

US says Palestinian unity govt must recognise Israel, disarm Hamas
Thu Oct 19, 2017 12:59:30

A top aide to US President Donald Trump said Thursday that an emerging Palestinian unity government must recognise Israel and disarm Hamas, Washington's first detailed response to a landmark reconciliation deal signed last week.

(AFP) -- A Hamas official immediately rejected the comments as "blatant interference" in Palestinian affairs, but did not say directly whether the group planned to comply with any of the demands.

Trump's special representative for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt, who has repeatedly visited the region to seek ways to restart peace talks, laid out a series of conditions.

"Any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognise the state of Israel, accept previous agreements and obligations between the parties -- including to disarm "terrorists" -- and commit to peaceful negotiations," Greenblatt said in a statement.

The US conditions were roughly in line with principles previously set out by the Quartet for Middle East peace -- the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.

"If Hamas is to play any role in a Palestinian government, it must accept these basic requirements," Greenblatt said.

The statement was also similar to the Israeli government's response this week in which it vowed not to negotiate with a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas unless the group agrees to a list of demands.

The demands included recognising Israel and renouncing violence, but also returning the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza, among other conditions.

Senior Hamas official Bassem Naim condemned Greenblatt's statement and accused the United States of adopting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's positions.

"This is blatant interference in Palestinian affairs because it is the right of our people to choose its government according to their supreme strategic interests," Naim told AFP.

"This statement comes under pressure from the extreme right-wing Netanyahu government and is in line with the Netanyahu statement from two days ago."

(Photo: AFP)

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