A senior White House official has said that the U.S. would reconsider its current assistance to the Palestinians if Hamas, the Islamist group and the PLO – Palestinian Liberation Organization – were to form a new government.
Hamas is based in Gaza and is listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. The group announced a pact Wednesday with the PLO based in the West Bank with its president Mahmoud Abbas.
The unity pact has complicated the current peace talks, taking place with Israel that the U.S. brokered and Washington has struggled with extending beyond the deadline of April 29.
Benjamin Netanyahu the Prime Minister of Israel has previously warned the PLO and Abbas not to pursue reconciliation with Hamas. He called a meeting with his security cabinet in order to discuss the next move for Israel.
The official from the U.S. said that any Palestinian government has to explicitly and unambiguously commit to being non-violent, recognize the state of Israel and the acceptance of obligations and agreements previously made between the parties, of which Hamas has rejected for many years.
The move by Hamas and the PLO has come following a number of failed attempts to reconcile after internal bickering has gone on for seven years. The two groups envision a unity government to be formed in less than five weeks, which will be followed six months from then with national elections.
However, giving U.S. aid to a government that Hamas is part of would be giving assistance to an organization that the U.S. lists as being a terrorist group.
Both Israel and the United States greeted yesterday’s announcement of the pact with much dismay.
Israel has ministers who are opposed to creating a state for the Palestinians and they canceled a session that was scheduled for talks with the group of Palestinians participating in the peace talks. The U.S. State Department told reporters that the new unity pact could help to derail the ongoing peace efforts.
Asked if the reconciliation moves could incur U.S. sanctions that have been promised, Yasser Abed Rabo the Deputy Secretary of the PLO told a Palestinian radio station it is too soon for a government that is still not formed to be penalized.
Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip from Abbas loyalists in 2007.