Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has remarked that he is “deeply troubled” by the American government’s decision to work with the new alliance that is currently governing Palestine. Mr. Netanyahu expressed his desire for the world to reject the new government because it has grown out of an agreement with Hamas, an Islamist movement that Israel and the West considers a terrorist organization.
The Israeli prime minister said in an interview with The Associated Press that “the United States must make it absolutely clear” to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that the pact with Hamas “is simply unacceptable.” Other Israeli leaders have also expressed disappointment in the Obama Administration’s willingness to work with the new Palestinian government.
Likud Party minister Gilad Erdan said, “American naïveté has broken all records.” Nachman Shai, a lawmaker with the left-leaning Labor Party, called the step “a slap in the face from the Americans.” Naftali Bennett, leader of the nationalist Jewish Home faction, said the decision by the United States “sends a message that terrorism pays.”
The new government was formed with the consent of Hamas, but the 17 ministers within the government are professionals without formal links to any political faction. Mr. Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah gave assurances that the new government will recognize Israel, renounce violence and adhere to prior Palestinian-Israeli agreements.
The relationship between Israel and the United States has often been rocky, even though the two are close and critical allies. However, that relationship has become more strained after the breakdown of peace talks between Israel and Palestine brokered by the United States and the American government’s decision to negotiate with Iran about its nuclear program.
Michael B. Oren, Israel’s previous ambassador in Washington, said, “We’ve had disagreements over settlements, over Jerusalem — I see this as more fundamental; it’s a source of grave concern. It delivers a blow to American credibility, and American credibility is cardinal here. Because at the end of the day, if Israel is going to make concessions for peace, is going to take risks for peace, we have to rely on our alliance with the United States. There has to be deep trust.”