(from London’s Daily Telegraph) – Speaking on CNN [Sunday, April 27th,] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the preferable course of action to get peace negotiations back on track would be for Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to renounce Hamas , the Islamist movement whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel.
“Either Hamas disavows the destruction of Israel and embraces peace and denounces terror, or president Abbas renounces Hamas,” Netanyahu said.
“If one of those things happened, we could get back to the peace negotiations. I hope he renounces Hamas and gets back to the peace table, as I’ve just said. The ball is in his court.”
Netanyahu suspended peace talks with the Palestinians last week after the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Hamas [considered a terrorist organization by the U.S., Israel and Europe] agreed to work together to form a unity government, in a move to end years of bitter political rivalry.
In a speech to PLO leaders on Saturday, Abbas said the new unity government, which is to be formed of political independents, would recognize Israel, reject violence and abide by existing agreements – the demands laid out by the Middle East peacemaking Quartet. [The Quartet is a group of four involved in mediating the peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Quartet are the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia. The group was established in 2002.]
But a senior Israeli cabinet minister on Sunday ruled out any talks with the new government – even if it accepted the Quartet conditions. “We will not negotiate with a government backed by Hamas, even if it’s a… technocrat government,” economy minister Naftali Bennett said.
“We won’t talk to such a government even if it accepts the Quartet terms because it’s backed by Hamas,” he said. “If Hamas (itself) accepted the Quartet terms, that would be a different story,” he said.
[Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu also accused Palestinian Authority President Abbas of engaging in “damage control” by denouncing the Holocaust after agreeing to unite with the Hamas militant group that seeks Israel’s destruction.
“President Abbas has to decide whether he wants a pact with Hamas or peace with Israel,” Netanyahu said on CBS’s Face the Nation program yesterday. “He cannot speak out of both sides of his mouth.” By expressing sympathy for Holocaust victims, “I think what he’s trying to do is damage control,” Netanyahu said of Abbas.
Netanyahu characterized Abbas’s Holocaust statement as an attempt to “smooth over the fact that he made a terrible step away from peace. You can say nice things … or even significant things about the Holocaust, but you can’t embrace those who embrace the Holocaust,” Netanyahu said.
Abbas had called the Holocaust “the most heinous crime to have occurred against humanity in the modern era” during a meeting with a visiting American rabbi, according to the official Palestinian Wafa news agency.
“Tear up your pact with Hamas,” Netanyahu told Abbas, in an interview on CNN yesterday. “Recognize the Jewish state. Come back to a real peace process.”]
…Meanwhile, The PLO’s [Fatah’s]central council on Sunday adopted a plan to pursue attempts to join 60 United Nations bodies and international agreements, according to a statement from the governing body of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
The council, under the auspices of president Mahmud Abbas, “affirms the need for the Palestinian leadership to continue membership of UN agencies and international conventions, under the Palestinian plan that was adopted,” the Palestine People’s Party secretary general Bassam al-Salhi said in a statement.
Seized by Israel in the Six Day War of 1967, the West Bank is now home to hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers, as well as about 1.7 million Palestinians.
Israel annexed east Jerusalem in 1967 in a move never recognized by the international community.
Reprinted here for educational purposes only. Compiled from a Telegraph news report and Bloomberg News. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from the Daily Telegraph.
NOTE TO STUDENTS: Before answering the questions, read the “Background” below.
1. Name the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
2. Name the two Palestinian parties that rule the Palestinians. Which one is considered to be a terrorist organization? Which one rules the Gaza Strip?
3. Why did Prime Minister Netanyahu last week suspend peace talks with the Palestinians?
4. What conditions did Mr. Netanyahu say the Palestinians must meet for Israel before Israel would resume peace talks?
5. The PLO (Fatah) and Hamas announced they would form a unity government. What did Mr. Abbas say the new unity government would do?
6. a) How did Israeli senior cabinet minister Naftali Bennett react to the unity plan?
b) What did he say would change their decision?
7. a) Consider what you know and have learned about Hamas (what they say, what they do, what others say about them). Do you think Israeli leaders are justified in their demands for Fatah and Hamas? Explain your answer.
b) Ask a parent if he/she thinks Fatah’s plan to unify with Hamas will lead to peace with Israel and to explain why or why not.
THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY’S RULING POLITICAL PARTIES:
The Palestinian Authority is currently ruled by two parties, Fatah and Hamas. Hamas holds the majority of seats in the Palestinian Parliament and the office of Prime Minister and rules from the Gaza Strip. Fatah holds a minority of seats in the Parliament, and the office of President and rules from the West Bank. The U.S., Israel and Europe consider Hamas to be a terrorist organization.
Fatah [affiliated with the PLO – Palestine Liberation Organization] ruled the Palestinian Authority from its establishment in 1994 until 2006. [Yasser Arafat was the head of Fatah until his death in 2004.] Fatah is a major secular Palestinian political party…. In Palestinian politics it is on the center-left of the spectrum. ….. [Since its loss in 2006 as the ruling party] it has … been described oftentimes in the media as the more “moderate” party, although many dispute this due to its past actions and current policies. (from wikipedia)
- Hamas is a Palestinian Sunni Islamist terrorist organization that currently (since January 2006) forms the majority party of the Palestinian Authority
- Hamas is known outside the Palestinian territories for its suicide bombings and other attacks directed against Israeli civilians, as well as military and security forces targets.
- Hamas’ charter…calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and its replacement with a Palestinian Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip
- In January 2006, Hamas won a surprise victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections. Many [Palestinians] perceived the preceding Fatah government as corrupt and ineffective.
- Since Hamas has taken control, the Palestinian territories have experienced a period of sharp internal conflicts, known as Fauda (anarchy), in which many Palestinians have been killed in…fighting [between Hamas supporters and Fatah supporters]. (from wikipedia)
For more information on Hamas, visit the Council on Foreign Relations website atcfr.org/publication/8968/hamas.html
Read about the Palestinian National Authority at wikipedia.
Yom HaShoah (in Hebrew) – “Remembrance Day for the Holocaust and Heroism” (known in English as Holocaust Remembrance Day), is observed as a day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. In Israel, it is a national memorial day.
Yad Vashem (“Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority”) is Israel’s official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust established in 1953. The origin of the name is from a Biblical verse: “And to them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name (Yad Vashem) that shall not be cut off.” (Isaiah 56:5).
Holocaust Remembrance Day 2014 was sunset April 27 to sunset April 28. Israel marks remembrance day in ceremonies across the country, accompanied by a two-minute siren and ceremonies at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. Read about it at: ynetnews.com.
Watch Prime Minister Netanyahu’s CNN interview from Sunday, April 27:
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