Israeli prime minister warns Fatah against Hamas reconciliation

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has criticized the latest attempts at reconciliation between rival Palestinian movements Hamas and Fatah, saying that they may become an obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian settlement.

The statement came after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas announced on Wednesday his willingness to visit Gaza for reconciliation talks with Hamas officials. The visit will be the first one since Hamas ousted Fatah from Gaza in 2007, seizing power in the enclave.

In an interview with CNN on Thursday, Netanyahu said reconciliation of the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority with Hamas, which Israel considers a terrorist organization, would seriously hamper peace talks with the Palestinians.

“What do I negotiate with Hamas, the method of our termination?” the prime minister said. “Can you imagine a peace deal with al-Qaida?”

He indicated that negotiations with Hamas would only be possible if the movement dropped calls for the destruction of Israel.

“You can make peace with an enemy if the enemy abandons the idea of destroying you. That is the critical test,” he said.

Abbas said on Wednesday he would visit Gaza “within four days” to discuss with the Hamas leadership the creation of an interim government of technocrats and preparations for presidential and legislative elections in the Palestinian Authority.

Abbas will visit Gaza at the invitation of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, which came after hundreds of thousands of young Palestinians marched in Gaza and the West Bank on Wednesday calling for Palestinian unity.

TEL AVIV, March 18 (RIA Novosti)

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