“… they came together to wage war against Joshua and Israel.” (Joshua 9:2)
Today, in response to the establishment of the Fatah-Hamas unity government on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the planning of 1,800 housing units in the settlements that have been frozen the last three months.
His announcement followed a move by the Housing Ministry on Wednesday in which tenders were published for an additional 1,500 housing units in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.
The move quickly drew criticism, including that of United States Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro.
“We oppose construction in the settlements and this type of announcement about building. This would happen with or without the disagreement on the new Palestinian transitional government.”
A member of the Palestinian negotiating team also criticized the move today, saying it would not advance a two-state solution: “We think that Israel is responding hysterically mostly because of the wave of international support for the new Palestinian government and especially that of the U.S. Since Israel doesn’t have the tools or the will to punish the U.S. or Europe, it is punishing the Palestinians.” (HaAretz)
The United States was among the first to accept the unity government, even though US law designates Hamas as a terrorist organization.
“Based on what we know now we intend to work with this government but will be watching closely to ensure that it upholds principles that President Abbas reiterated today,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told the press Monday.
The principles she referred to were Abbas’ commitment to honor past peace deals and the principles underlying the peace process with Israel, a rather unlikely outcome considering that Hamas does not recognize Israel and Fatah still refuses to identify Israel as a Jewish state.
As stated in its charter, Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel. It has a sizable arsenal of rockets and other armaments, and its military threat to Israel can only grow when it is free to roam Judea and Samaria (West Bank).
Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer wrote on Facebook that “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.”
He added, “This Palestinian unity government is a government of technocrats backed by terrorists, and should be treated as such. With suits in the front office and terrorists in the back office, it should not be business as usual.”
”I think the United States must make it absolutely clear to the Palestinian president that its pact with Hamas, a terrorist organization that seeks Israel’s liquidation, is simply unacceptable,” Netanyahu said.
On Thursday, Shapiro responded to Israel’s criticism of Washington’s decision to work with the new Palestinian government.
“We have no illusions about Hamas. Hamas is a terrorist organization. We have no relations with Hamas, we will not work with them, we will not give them aid, we will not work with a government in which Hamas sits,” he said.
On Sunday, Netanyahu appealed to the international community to not recognize the unity government.
“I call on all responsible elements in the international community not to run to recognize the Palestinian government of which Hamas is a part and which rests on Hamas,” Netanyahu said at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting. “Hamas is a terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of Israel and the international community must not embrace it. This will not strengthen peace; it will strengthen terrorism.”
Despite his appeal, international support for the new government seemed to pour in this week.
It includes the European Union and United Nations, which announced Tuesday that they will work with the new Palestinian unity government, as long as they follow the principle of peace with Israel based on a two-state solution.
“We welcome … the declaration by President Abbas that this new government is committed to the principle of the two state solution based on the 1967 borders, to the recognition of Israel’s legitimate right to exist,” the EU said in a statement.
“The United Nations has long underscored the need for progress towards Palestinian unity in line with existing resolutions, within the framework of the Palestinian Authority and the commitments of the Palestine Liberation Organization,” stated a statement issued by Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson.
China has also hailed the unity cabinet.
“China welcomes the Palestinians forming a unity government. Realizing internal reconciliation is conducive to Palestinian internal solidarity, and is also conducive to the Palestinians pushing forward peace talks with Israel,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told the press. (JPost)
Although the world has rushed to accept the new unity government, one end result of it may be the opening of Judea and Samaria to Hamas terrorist forces turning it into another Gaza Strip at the doorstep of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
This presents the very real possibility of a rain of rockets in the very near future on these centers of Israel’s population with the main line of defense being the Israeli developed Iron Dome air defense system.