Public Security Min. Erdan urges Israelis to carry arms following Palestinian reconciliation
'We'll enlarge the number of gun licenses,' vows Erdan. 'Fatah and Hamas terror government might bring with it incitement and attacks'; Erdan's comments come despite Palestinian official explaining Tuesday Hamas will not be joining Palestinian government following reconciliation.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan stated on Wednesday that he intends to encourage Israeli citizens to carry arms for their personal safety, during the inauguration ceremony of the new firearms licensing bureau in the city of Ramla.
"We'll do this to supply better personal safety to all Israeli citizens," said Erdan.
Erdan stressed that he feels this move to be necessary in light of the recent inter-Palestinian reconciliation agreement between the Ramallah-based Fatah party and the Gaza-based Hamas party.
He went on to make a distinction between both parties, saying that while Fatah, whose leader Mahmoud Abbas is the president of the Palestinian Authority, "has only been part of incitements and paying of terrorists," Hamas is an outright and armed terrorist group.
"Unfortunately, we're not heading toward a better place," said Erdan. "Today, we're talking about a terrorist government (comprised of—ed) the Palestinian Authority, Fatah and Hamas. We will no doubt find ourselves in even more complex situation and waves of severe incitement, which will lead to more terrorists deciding to carry out attacks."
It should be stated that at least according to a senior Palestinian official, Hamas will not be joining the Palestinian government following the inter-Palestinian reconciliation agreement.
"(The Cabinet members—ed) speak in their decision about a government leaning on Hamas, but in reality there is no Palestinian unity government. The current Palestinian government is identical to the government before the agreement, and to the government that has existed for years, and it does not contain any of Hamas's people," he official said.
Moreover, while the Cabinet's decision did announce the Israeli government will not be negotiating with the Palestinian government, neither political negotiations nor the signing of political agreements were ever conducted with the Palestinian government, but with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, considered the Palestinian people's recognized, legitimate representative.
The Cabinet's decision, the Palestinian official further added, was merely a "new excuse meant to lead negotiations to a deadlock, since Israel has never wanted the West Bank to reconnect with Gaza.
"When there were talks on a peace process, the Israelis told us, 'How can we reach accords with you when you're not in control of the Gaza Strip?' Now that we're in the midst of a move to regain control of Gaza, the Israelis are saying, 'You're in bed with Hamas terrorists, so why should we negotiate with you?'" the official said.
Erdan's words, in any case, echoed similar statements made by other Israeli officials on Tuesday, when the Israeli Security Cabinet decided that Israel will not negotiate with the Palestinians until Hamas is disarmed. The decision was made after the agreement did not broach the issue of Hamas disarmament.
The cabinet's decision was unanimous and meant to avoid providing Hamas with indirect legitimacy. "Pursuant to previous decisions, the Israeli government will not politically negotiate with a Palestinian government in which Hamas, a terrorist organization calling for the annihilation of Israel, takes part, so long as the following conditions are not met," the Prime Minister's Office announced Tuesday.
"Hamas must recognize Israel and cease terrorism as per the Quartet's terms, Hamas must disarm, bodies of IDF soldiers and living Israeli civilians must be returned from Gaza, the Palestinian Authority must exert full security control over Gaza, including in border crossings and smuggling prevention, and must continue foiling Hamas's terror plots in the West Bank, Hamas must disengage from Iran and, finally, only finances and humanitarian equipment from the Palestinian Authority will be allowed to enter Gaza," the prime minister described Israel's preconditions.
"We'll enlarge the number of license carriers, so that as many qualified citizens, with the necessary background, would be willing to take it upon themselves to train and keep them in the required fitness level," added Erdan.