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April 23, 2014 9:53 am

Israeli PM Netanyahu Asks: Does Abbas Want Peace With Hamas or Peace With Israel?

avatar by Joshua Levitt

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Cherie Cullen / WikiCommons.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas must choose between making peace with Israel, which seeks to continue negotiations, or making peace with Hamas, which governs Gaza and calls for Israel’s destruction.

As part of a statement welcoming Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz to Jerusalem, Netanyahu said: “You’re coming at an important time. We’re trying to re-launch the negotiations with the Palestinians.”

“Every time we get to that point, [Mahmoud Abbas] Abu Mazen stacks on additional conditions which he knows that Israel cannot give,” Netanyahu said. “So instead of moving into peace with Israel, he’s moving into peace with Hamas.”

“He has to choose,” Netanyahu said. “Does he want peace with Hamas or peace with Israel. You can have one but not the other. I hope he chooses peace, so far he hasn’t done so.”

Netanyahu’s remarks came a week ahead of the official end-date — April 29 — for ongoing U.S.-brokered peace talks with the PA, and after reports from semi-official PA media that rival parties Fatah and Hamas were close to reaching a deal that would unify the two groups. Other reports, downplayed by the Israeli media, cited Abbas as saying that he would even consider dismantling the PA. Meanwhile, its bid to pursue quasi-recognition of statehood via United Nations petitions also moves forward.

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