Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas will have chosen to “abandon the path of peace” if he implements a reconciliation deal with Hamas signed on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned.
He issued the warning shortly after Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal inked the deal in Qatar that will see the Palestinian president serve as the head of an interim consensus government in the run-up to elections this year.
“If Abu Mazen (Abbas) implements what was signed in Doha, he chooses to abandon the path of peace and join himself to Hamas,” Netanyahu told a meeting of his Likud party's ministers, according to a statement from his office.
The Doha agreement comes as rival movements Fatah and Hamas struggle to implement a reconciliation deal signed in April that called for the immediate formation of a consensus government and elections within a year.
Israel has made clear its opposition to the agreement, warning Abbas that he could not reconcile with the Islamist movement Hamas which rules Gaza and at the same time hold talks with the Jewish state.
“I have said several times in the past that the Palestinian Authority (led by Abbas) must choose between an alliance with Hamas and peace with Israel. Hamas and peace do not go together,” Netanyahu said on Monday.
“I say to Abu Mazen, you cannot grasp the stick at both ends. It is either peace with Hamas or peace with Israel, you cannot have both,” he added.
The “Doha Declaration” was signed by Abbas and Meshaal in the presence of Qatar’s emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.
The agreement states that the new Palestinian government will comprise “independent technocrats,” and will also be responsible for overseeing reconstruction efforts in the Gaza Strip.
An anonymous Palestinian official told AFP Hamas and Abbas’ secular Fatah movement had agreed that the “national consensus government will be made up of independents and technocrats and they will be responsible for overseeing the elections.”
He did not say when the elections would take place but under the terms of the reconciliation deal parliamentary and presidential elections are both to be held by May.
Implementation of the deal has been delayed on several occasions despite repeated meetings between the two parties but on Sunday they agreed to move speedily ahead with the elections.
“We agreed on the importance of holding the elections quickly ... and removing any obstacles that might delay the polls,” said Fatah spokesman Azzam al-Ahmed, who is accompanying Abbas in Doha.
The last Palestinian elections were held in 2006.