Washington, Feb. 7 - U.S. and Israeli leaders are denouncing the Hamas-Fatah unity deal agreed upon yesterday in Doha, Qatar.
The unity deal signed yesterday between the terrorist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority and the West Bank, calls for current Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to continue in his interim role while Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad – who is lauded by the West as a moderate and state-builder – will step down.
The Hamas administration in Gaza will cede control to Abbas while the two parties prepare for general elections in the coming months. The deal also stipulates that besides Abbas, political independents will comprise the interim administration.
Abbas represented Fatah at the signing, while Khaled Mashaal, who has headed the political bureau of Hamas based in Damascus, represented the militant group.
Yet world reaction soured against deal, as many perceived that Abbas was forsaking peace negotiations for political unity with a group designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and Europe.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was among the first world leaders to condemn Abbas for accepting the pact, saying it was a rejection of Israel’s campaign for peace.
“Israel had made great efforts to advance the peace process,” Netanyahu said at a Likud meeting Monday. “If Abbas realizes what was signed in Doha, it shows that he is choosing to abandon the path of peace and joining with Hamas, without Hamas accepting the minimal conditions of the international community."
In Washington, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland reiterated the Obama administration’s demand that "any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence” and said a future governing coalition “must recognize the state of Israel.”
“And it must accept the previous agreements and obligations between the parties, including the road map,” she continued. “So those are our expectations."
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in a statement denounced the Palestinian Authority for signing the deal.
“By forming a government with Hamas, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization committed to Israel’s destruction, Abu Mazen and company have again chosen the path of extremism and rejectionism, rather than the path towards peace and good relations with Israel and the U.S. This move illustrates that extremist policies are entrenched within the Palestinian Authority.
Commentator Joe Klein wrote in a Time Magazine blog post that the major development in the deal – the dismissal of Prime Minister Fayyad – could slow or even reverse the enormous economic and political progress Fayyad has overseen in the West Bank.
“The fact that Mahmoud Abbas succumbed to Hamas pressure and agreed to sack Fayyad represents a return to dismal business as usual on the Palestinian side,” he wrote.