Israel will work to foil Hamas participation in Palestinian elections
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - AFP/Alberto Pizzoli

GAZA CITY:  Israel will not hold negotiations with the new Palestinian unity government and will oppose Hamas participation in the Palestinian elections if and when they take place, Haaretz quoted the Israeli security cabinet as saying on Monday.

“Israel will work, including in the international arena, to oppose the participation of terrorist organizations in the elections,” the panel said in a statement issued at the end of its two-and-a-half-hour meeting.

The security cabinet decided that Israel would hold the Palestinian unity government responsible for any attack on Israel from either the West Bank or Gaza, including rocket fire. It did not decide on any immediate punitive steps against the PA, but authorized the prime minister to impose such sanctions in the future.

The ministers also decided to set up a task force “to examine ways of dealing with the reality that has been created, and with the diplomatic and security situations that may arise in the future.”

Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Israel would not allow the Palestinian Authority to conduct elections in al-Quds (East Jerusalem) for either its parliamentary or its presidential election, if the Fatah-Hamas unity government indeed leads to such elections being held in another few months, as called for in their reconciliation deal.

Several Knesset members present at the meeting said that Netanyahu cited “the lessons of the past” as the reason for the change in Israel’s policy on this issue. During the PA’s parliamentary election in 2006, Israel allowed campaigning in al-Quds (East Jerusalem) and also let the PA open polling booths there.

“Netanyahu said he wasn’t saying whether he was for or against such elections, but noted the results of recent elections at Palestinian universities in the West Bank, in which Hamas beat Fatah,” one MK said.

The premier told the MKs that he believes the unity government serves Hamas’ interests rather than those of PA President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas.

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