|Arafat looms large [on the wall] at swearing in ceremony...he appears to be smiling his approval from the grave|
Netanyahu: Do Not to Recognize Unity Government - Jeffrey Heller
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned against any international rush to recognize a Palestinian government that includes Hamas. Israel and the West classify Hamas as a terrorist organization and have no official dealings with the movement.
"I call on all responsible elements in the international community not to rush to recognize a Palestinian government which has Hamas as part of it and which is dependent on Hamas," Netanyahu told the cabinet. "Hamas is a terrorist organization that calls for Israel's destruction, and the international community must not embrace it. That would not bolster peace, it would strengthen terror."
PA President Mahmoud Abbas told [U.S. Secretary of State John] Kerry that "the new government would be committed to the [Quartet] principles," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
Washington Faces Key Israeli-Palestinian Tests - Robert Satloff
The administration's challenge is how to respond to the expected announcement of the formation of a new Hamas-Fatah Palestinian government. As various spokesmen have affirmed, Washington will only work with a government that endorses the "Quartet principles," i.e., recognition of Israel's right to exist, renunciation of violence and terror, and endorsement of previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
While the legislative language governing U.S. aid to the Palestinians offers the administration wiggle room to argue for providing assistance to a Hamas-backed government that affirms the Quartet principles, the administration evidently gave Israel a specific promise that it would not deal with any Palestinian government "backed by Hamas."
According to authoritative American and Israeli sources, that broader assurance was first made to Israel by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton following President Obama's May 2011 addresses on the Middle East. The assurance was then specifically affirmed by Secretary of State John Kerry prior to the start of his peace initiative last year.
A related question is whether the U.S. will condone Hamas participation in the next Palestinian elections. In 2006, the Bush administration acceded to Hamas participation so that the Palestinian people could choose their own leaders as they saw fit, confident in the theory that governance itself would be a moderating experience if Hamas won.
The unintended result was Hamas' surprise victory and eventual takeover of Gaza. Condoleezza Rice, a vocal advocate of Hamas inclusion in the elections when she served as secretary of state, wrote in her memoirs, "In retrospect, we should have insisted that every party disarm as a condition for participating in the vote."
The writer is executive director of The Washington Institute.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)