Kerry Defends Decision By U.S. to Work with Unity Government
John Kerry the U.S. Secretary of State on Wednesday defended a decision by the U.S. government to work with the new unity Palestinian government, despite criticism fom Israel. Kerry emphasized that the new government does not have any ministers from Hamas.
The U.S. like the European Union and Israel, consider Hamas, an Islamist group to be a terrorist organization. However, Kerry, while speaking in Beirut to reporters, said that Mahmoud Abbas the Palestinian president was clear when telling Kerry that the new government is committed to non violence, negotiations, acceptance of agreements previously made, recognizing Isreal as a state and the Quartet Principles.
Kerry said that based upon what the U.S. knows of the technocratic government’s composition, which none of the minister are Hamas affiliated, the U.S. will work with it.
The U.S. Secretary fo State also said that the preparedness by the U.S. to work with the Palestinian government does not equal recognizing the Palestinian state.
Kerry said the U.S. did not recognize a government with respect to Palestine, since that would be recognizing a state that does not exist.
A new cabinet in the unity governmetn was sworn in this week, after a reconciliation deal had been reached in April that surprised many, between the PLO and Hamas.
The EU, the U.S., Russia and the UN have all said they would work with the new cabinet.
Despite an alliance with Hamas, Abbas said the government would stand by the Middle East Quartet principles which have a goal of establishing two states. Hamas does no recognize Israel and has pledged its destruction.
The readiness by the U.S. to work with the unity government prompted fury out of Israel. Prime Mininster Benjamin Netanyahu branded the move a step against the process of peace.
Kerry, during his unschedule trip ot Lebanon, said he wanted to be clear that the U.S.will be watching the new government closely to ensure it upholds everything it promised and does not cross over any lines.
The disagreement over the unity Palestinian government has driven another wedge between the U.S. and Israel in what is already a shaky relationship.