Netanyahu announces withdrawal, citing unity pact between the PLO and Hamas
– Sarah Lazare
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pictured August 26, 2012. (Photo: Reuters/Uriel Sinai/Pool)Israel on Tuesday declared it is withdrawing from the so-called “peace talks,” citing Wednesday’s announcement of a unity pact between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas.
In an interview with the BBC’s Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas can “have peace with Israel or a pact with Hamas—he can’t have both.”
According to Middle East scholar Juan Cole, the “hostility of Israel and the US to a Palestinian internal reconciliation also derives from their desire to divide and rule. A united Palestinian front would make that strategy much less salient. If the 4.4 million Palestinians in the Occupied territories could speak with a single voice, they would nearly have the weight of the 5.5 million Israeli Jews.”
The talks, brokered by the U.S., had long shown signs of fraying. Critics have slammed Israel for constructing settlements, destroying Palestinian homes, repressing protests, and killing Palestinian civilians throughout the course of the U.S.-brokered negotiations.