Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday that a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority is not a partner in peace talks with Israel.
Speaking during an emergency meeting of the security cabinet in Jerusalem to discuss Israel’s policy towards the Palestinian Authority after Hamas’ sweeping victory,
Olmert said, “Should a government be established in the Palestinian Authority with Hamas leading or participating, the PA will become a sponsor of terror. The world and Israel will ignore it and it will become irrelevant.”
Olmert instructed his ministers not to comment on Hamas’ victory in the parliamentary elections, saying “Israel is a strong country and there is no need to panic.”
The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement at the end of the meeting saying, “The State of Israel will not hold negotiations with a Palestinian government led by an armed terror organization that advocates its destruction. Israel will continue to fight terror resolutely.”
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra, Minister without-portfolio Tzachi Hanegbi, IDF Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Dan Halutz, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin, political advisor Dov Weissglass and the National Security Advisor Giora Eiland attended the meeting.
“There is no doubt that a new situation arose. The Palestinian Authority committed itself to disarming all terror organizations. Israel stuck by the road map and demanded the Palestinian Authority fulfills its commitment of terror groups,” the statement read.
Olmert’s office drafted a series of statements and commitments made by the Palestinian Authority to the international community, including a promise to disarm terror groups after the parliamentary election and lure Hamas to turn into a political party as demanded in the road map.
No military operations, for the time being
Israel will abide by its position that Hamas is a terror organization, a position shared by the European Union and the United States.
“The international community will not accept a situation where a terror group is part of a government vying for international recognition,” the statement said.
Olmert and Livni will lead negotiations with the major international players --- The United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations --- and demand they press the Palestinian Authority disarms Hamas.
The security establishment has been instructed to prepare for a possible Hamas-initiated escalation.
The Islamic Jihad however remains the IDF’s main target as it boycotted the elections and vowed to continue its armed struggle against Israel.
Israel will be monitoring developments in the Palestinian territories and will cut military operations in the territories.
“We are prepared for all scenarios, mainly for possible Islamic Jihad activities. We are focusing on international diplomacy and we believe that pressure from western countries will contain terror,” a senior official told Ynet.