December 22, 2014
Israel halts peace talks in response to Abbas pact with Hamas
Israel decided to halt peace negotiation with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and to impose economic sanctions in the wake of the PA's unity agreement with Hamas yesterday.
After a six-hour closed-door meeting, Israeli Security Cabinet “decided unanimously that the government of Israel will not hold negotiations with a Palestinian government that is backed by Hamas, a terror organisation that calls for Israel's destruction,” read a statement sent to journalists.
Asked to clarify whether that meant the talks were now frozen or would be called off only after a unity government was formed, a senior Israeli official said: "They are currently suspended."
Along with the decision to suspend a nine-month peace initiative by US Secretary of State John Kerry, local media reports said that Israel would also impose economic sanctions on the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The Israeli official appeared to leave open the possibility the talks could be renewed if a future Palestinian government with Hamas's participation accepted international conditions the Islamist group has long rejected.
Hamas, listed by the United States as a terrorist organisation, announced the unity pact with Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) yesterday. Hamas won the last Palestinian parliamentary polls in 2006 then seized the Gaza Strip from forces loyal to the Western-backed Abbas in 2007.
The deal envisions a unity government within five weeks and national elections six months later.