Netanyahu to Abbas: Choose whether you want peace with Israel or Hamas
Netanyahu and Israel rejected Abbas' conditions for extending the peace talks earlier this week (File Archive/AFP)
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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas needs to choose whether he wants peace with Israel or Hamas, because he cannot have both, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday.
Netanyahu, at the outset of a meeting in his office with visiting Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, said that instead of moving peace forward with Israel, Abbas is moving toward reconciliation with Hamas.
"He must choose," Netanyahu said. "Does he want reconciliation with Hamas, or peace with Israel? Only one is attainable, not both. I hope he chooses peace, until now he has not done so."
Regarding efforts to negotiate a continuation of the diplomatic talks with the Palestinians beyond their April 29 deadline, Netanyahu said that every time the sides get close, Abbas adds new conditions "knowing that Israel cannot accept them."
On Tuesday, during a meeting with Israeli journalists, Abbas laid out his three conditions for continuing talks with Israel: that Israel release the fourth batch of Palestinian security prisoners, including Israeli-Arabs, and that none of them be deported; that Israel freeze all settlement construction; and that the first three months of the extended talks deal with the borders of a future Palestinian state.
The prime minister's comments came amid reports that Abbas's Fatah movement had agreed to form a unity government with Hamas within five weeks
Shortly after Netanyahu's meeting, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett responded to those reports, saying a Fatah-Hamas union would create a "terror government."
"Hamas will keep murdering Jews and Abbas will keep wanting prisoner releases," Bennett said. "Whoever thought of Abbas as a partner should rethink that idea."