White House Senior Official: Hamas Won't Be in Government without Recognizing Israel

Hamas leader vows terror group will never give up ‘armed struggle

Hamas leader vows terror group will never give up ‘armed struggle

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday pledged to build "thousands" of new homes in a major West Bank settlement east of Jerusalem, insisting it would one day be part of Israel. "In return, President Mahmoud Abbas should take an urgent decision calling off punitive measures taken against the Gaza Strip", the statement said.

Since 2007, the Authority no longer exercises its authority, limited, on the west bank, a palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 50 years and separated from Gaza by a few tens of kilometers of israeli territory.

West Bank based Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah visited the Gaza strip Monday to meet with Hamas officials.

The first test of the reconciliation and the functioning of the government in Gaza concerns the management of the crossings into Israel and Egypt, said Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh, a member of the Fatah central committee. Now the "reconciliation" with Fatah shows how Hamas has been weakened.

Fatah and Hamas have been at odds ever since the latter scored a landslide victory in Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006.

The Gaza Strip is still recovering from that war; almost half its residents are unemployed, and a blockade on Gaza imposed by Egypt and Israel after Hamas took control remains in place.

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Hamdallah's visit is intended as the first symbolic move toward transferring custodianship of the coastal territory from Hamas to the PA.

The sides are to begin negotiations next week in Cairo. He also called for worldwide pressure on Israel to lift its economic "siege" of the Gaza.

Netanyahu sees the deal as a Hamas effort to gain global legitimacy without changing its aim to destroy Israel, according to an Israeli official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the issue's political delicacy. He also repeated the Quartet's conditions, laid out a decade ago: every Palestinian government will have to refrain from using violence against Israel, to recognize it, to accept the Oslo Accords, and to put an end to the conflict through peace talks. Relief from the suffering in Gaza can only be found when all interested parties gather together to help the Palestinian people and isolate Hamas.

Officials on both sides said the more hard issues will be addressed at the upcoming talks in Cairo. President Abdel Fatah el- Sisi of Egypt has used both carrots and sticks to moderate Hamas' behaviour, mainly to induce it to end its support for the insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula.

"Whoever wants to make such a reconciliation, our understanding is very clear: recognise the State of Israel, disband the Hamas military arm, sever the connection with Iran - which calls for our destruction".

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