Israel Urges World Not to Accept Palestinian Gov't
JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israel is urging the international community not to recognize the Palestinian government because it includes the terror organization Hamas.
Meanwhile, Israel was hit by rockets from both north and south over the weekend.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas presented the PLO-Hamas unity government in Ramallah on Monday, after speaking with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
In a weekend phone call, Kerry expressed his concern about Hamas's role in the unity government, saying it should "commit to the principles of nonviolence, recognition of the State of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements with it."
"President Abbas assured the secretary that the new government would be committed to these principles," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters following the phone call.
The State Department also denied a report in Sunday's al-Arab al-Yawm newspaper, quoting a senior Jordanian official that Kerry plans to meet with Abbas in Amman on Wednesday.
Non-Starter for Israel
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will not negotiate with a government that includes Hamas.
At Sunday's cabinet meeting, Netanyahu urged the international community to respond appropriately to the announcement.
"I call on all responsible elements in the international community not to run to recognize the Palestinian government of which Hamas is a part and that rests on Hamas," Netanyahu said. "Hamas is a terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of Israel and the international [community] must not embrace it. This will not strengthen peace; it will strengthen terrorism."
Just a day before the announcement, Gaza-based Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh renewed his pledge to destroy Israel, the Palestinian Media Watch reported.
"We think that the path of negotiations and peace talks has reached a dead end," PMW quoted Haniyeh. "The resistance [i.e., terror campaign, 2000-2005], which liberated Gaza [in 2005] and protected Gaza, can liberate the West Bank and the rest of the Palestinian lands, Allah willing. The liberator of Gaza, with the help of Allah, can liberate Jerusalem, the West Bank and the rest of Palestine [i.e., Israel]."
With this unity government, some congressional leaders believe it will not be illegal for the United States to continue aid to the Palestinian Authority. A 2006 law forbids U.S. aid to the P.A. if any part of its government is controlled by Hamas.
IDF Responds to Rockets, Mortars
Meanwhile, Israeli pilots scored direct hits on two terror sites in the Gaza Strip early Monday in response to rocket attacks over the weekend. Gaza-based Islamists have fired approximately 150 rockets on southern Israeli communities so far this year.
"This morning's IDF actions are a direct response to Gaza terrorist aggression against the citizens of southern Israel," IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said in a statement. "The unlawful Gaza rocket attacks, meant to terrorize, maim, and kill Israelis will not be allowed to become routine. We will fulfill our obligation to protect Israel and seek out and destroy the capabilities of those who wish to attack us."
In the north, several mortars fired from Syria at an IDF outpost prompted an Israeli response with artillery fire.
The IDF Spokesman's office said Israel "reserves the right to respond in any way and at any time to any and all attacks on Israel to protect Israeli residents."
Hamas is also seeking to shore up its relationship with Hezbollah and Iran, which deteriorated over the course of Syria's civil war. Senior officials of both terror groups have held a series of meetings recently, according to a weekend report in al-Akhbar.