Israeli PM rejects Palestinian reconciliation ‘unless Hamas disarms’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday Israel would reject any reconciliation deal between the two leading Palestinian factions unless Hamas disarmed.

“We are not prepared to accept bogus reconciliations in which the Palestinian side apparently reconciles at the expense of our existence,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

“Whoever wants to make such a reconciliation, our understanding is very clear: recognise the State of Israel, disband the Hamas military arm, sever the connection with Iran — which calls for our destruction,” Netanyahu added.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah began a three-day visit to Gaza on Monday as the two leading factions seek a reconciliation deal that could lead to a unity government.

The internationally recognised Palestinian Authority (PA) has signed a peace deal with Hamas which runs Gaza and has fought three wars with the Jewish state since 2008.

Hamas maintains a major military wing and senior officials have downplayed the idea of disarming in any reconciliation deal. However PA President Mahmud Abbas said in an interview on Monday there would be “one state, one system, one law and one weapon” — in an apparent reference to Hamas’s military wing.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu pledged to build thousands of new homes in one of the West Bank’s biggest illegal Jewish settlements and annex it to Israel.

The comments drew an angry condemnation from the Palestinians and created a new test for the Trump administration, which has been working for over eight months to restart peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

Benjamin Netanyahu said during a visit to Maaleh Adumim that he was announcing a period of “enhanced development.”

“We will build thousands of housing units here,” he said. “We will add the industrial zone needed and the expansion needed to allow for the advanced development of this place.”

“This place will be part of the state of Israel,” he added.

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