U.S. Calls on Hamas to Renounce Terror and Recognize Israel Before Joining Unity Government

Hamas Hezbollah (FILE)
JERUSALEM (JTA) — Any Palestinian government “must unambiguously and explicitly” commit to nonviolence, recognize Israel and accept previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, President Donald Trump’s envoy said.

The statement issued Thursday by Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s special envoy to the peace process, is the first response by the United States to the Palestinian reconciliation agreement between the Fatah Party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the terrorist Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. The Trump administration has been working to jump-start the peace talks, a stated major goal of the administration.

“If Hamas is to play any role in a Palestinian government, it must accept these basic requirements,” the statement said. The requirements, which also include a commitment to peaceful negotiations, represent the conditions originally set down by the Middle East Quartet, made up of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia. The was established in 2002 to help shepherd peace negotiations between  Israel and the Palestinians.

Jason Greenblatt (left), President Donald Trump’s international negotiations representative, meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem in March. Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO.

“All parties agree that it is essential that the Palestinian Authority be able to assume full, genuine, and unhindered civil and security responsibilities in Gaza and that we work together to improve the humanitarian situation for Palestinians living there,” Greenblatt also wrote.

Hamas rejected the statement, telling then French news agency AFP that it represented “blatant interference” by the United States in Palestinian affairs.

“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,” senior Hamas official Bassem Naim told AFP. Naim also said that the statement comes “under pressure from the extreme right-wing Netanyahu government.”

Greenblatt’s statement comes more than a day after the Israeli government announced conditions for negotiating with a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas.

Israel’s conditions include recognition of Israel and a halt to all terrorist activities in accordance with the rules set down by the Middle East Quartet; disarming of Hamas’ military infrastructure; and the return of the bodies of fallen Israeli soldiers and several civilians being held by Hamas in Gaza.

Other conditions are handing full security control of the Gaza Strip, including all border crossings, to the Palestinian Authority; the severing of all ties between Hamas and Iran; and humanitarian supplies and funds for Gaza facilitated through the P.A.

The Palestinian Authority and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, signed a reconciliation agreement earlier this week in Cairo. They are scheduled to meet again next month in the Egyptian capital to discuss forming a new unity government, as well as elections for president and parliament.