Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Divide Between Israel and the U.S. Widens

This is just one of many such incidents over the last 6-8 months - incidents which include major policy disagreements in the Middle East which concern Israel. This issue may escalate tensions to new levels:

In tough language rare for an Israeli diplomat in Washington, Israeli ambassador to the US Ron Dermer said Monday that Israel was “deeply disappointed” in the State Department’s decision to continue dealing with the Palestinian Authority now that it has Hamas support.

“Israel is deeply disappointed with the State Department’s comments today on the Palestinian unity government with Hamas, a terrorist organization responsible for the murder of many hundreds of Israelis, which has fired thousands of rockets at Israeli cities, and which remains committed to Israel’s destruction,” Dermer said in a Facebook post.

“This Palestinian unity government is a government of technocrats backed by terrorists, and should be treated as such,” he said. “With suits in the front office and terrorists in the back office, it should not be business as usual.”

Israeli envoys rarely publicly rebuke US administrations. Dermer’s was the first public comment on the matter.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, said earlier Monday that commending the Fatah-Hamas partnership is “lending legitimacy to terror attacks against Israel.”

In a letter to the president of the UN Security Council, Prosor wrote that Hamas “may seek the veneer of legitimacy by partnering with the Palestinian Authority but it is clear that the terrorist group remains committed to destroying Israel.”

Earlier Monday, Israeli government officials in Jerusalem slammed the United States for announcing that it will work with the new Palestinian unity government, sworn in earlier Monday. In strikingly bitter comments, officials said that rather than cooperating with a government backed by a terror group, Washington ought to be urging Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to disband his pact with Hamas and resume peace negotiations with Israel.

“We are deeply disappointed by the comments of the State Department regarding working with the Palestinian unity government. This Palestinian government is a government backed by Hamas, which is a terror organization committed to Israel’s destruction,” Israeli government officials said. “If the US administration wanted to advance peace, it should be calling on Abbas to end his pact with Hamas and return to peace talks with Israel,” they added. “Instead, it is enabling Abbas to believe that it is acceptable to form a government with a terrorist organization.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office and the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem declined to comment on the record. Earlier Monday, Israel’s senior ministers decided to boycott the new government, since it is backed by Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by Israel and the US.
In a decision approved at a special meeting of the Ministerial Committee for National Security Affairs, Netanyahu and eight top ministers said they would not deal with the new government and would form a team to “examine courses of action” in light of the new Palestinian unity government

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the US believes Abbas has “formed an interim technocratic government…that does not include members affiliated with Hamas.” Therefore, she added, “With what we know now, we will work with this government.”
Psaki did say, however, that Washington “will continue to evaluate the composition and policies of the new government and if needed we’ll modify our approach.” She later added that the administration would be “watching carefully to make sure” that the unity government upholds the principles that serve as preconditions for continuing US aid to the PA.
Psaki’s announcement was a major surprise to Israeli leaders; sources in Washington had been quoted in Israel in recent days saying the US would not immediately recognize the new PA government.
As recently as Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry called Abbas and “expressed concern about Hamas’s role in any such government and the importance that the new government commit to the principles of nonviolence, recognition of the state of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements with it,” Psaki had said.

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