GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The Latest on Palestinian efforts to reconcile Hamas, and Fatah, which have been fiercely divided since the Islamic militant group drove President Mahmoud Abbas’ party from Gaza a decade ago. (all times local):
Israel’s prime minister says his country will not accept a reconciliation deal between rival Palestinian factions that puts Israel at risk.
Benjamin Netanyahu says the attempt at reconciliation between the Islamic militant Hamas and the Western-backed Fatah must involve recognizing Israel, disbanding Hamas’ military wing and cutting ties with Hamas’ patron Iran.
At a meeting of his Likud party on Tuesday, Netanyahu said: “We are not prepared to accept bogus reconciliations” in which the Palestinians reconcile “at the expense of our existence.”
The two factions have launched their most ambitious attempt yet at mending a 10-year rift. Israel has held peace talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads Fatah, but considers Hamas a terrorist group.
Hamas’ supreme leader says his group will not give up its weapons, a vow that is sure to complicate reconciliation talks with the rival Fatah movement.
In an interview with Egypt’s private On TV, Ismail Haniyeh said Tuesday that his group has “the right to possess weapons and resist the occupation with all forms of resistance.”
The fate of Hamas’ large arsenal of rockets, mortar shells and automatic weapons is a major sticking point in the reconciliation talks that began on Monday.
Fatah’s leader, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, says that all weapons must be under his control. He said Monday that he would not allow Hamas to act like Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group that operates freely in its country.
The sides are to begin negotiations next week in Cairo.
The Palestinian prime minister has held the first government meeting in Gaza as part of a major reconciliation effort to end the 10-year rift between Fatah and the militant Hamas group.
Rami Hamdallah said after Tuesday’s meeting, which took place at the Gaza residence of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, that he’s ready “to take over tasks and resolve all pending issues” with the coastal strip.
In a significant concession, Hamas has agreed to turn over all governing responsibilities to Hamdallah.
The Palestinian premier arrived in Gaza on Monday with armed guards and an entourage of West Bank officials to a hero’s welcome from thousands of people.
Huge posters of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who brokered the reconciliation effort, were featured outside Abbas’ residence as Hamas policemen were deployed all around.