Palestinian leaders responded on Thursday to Israel’s decision to break off US-brokered peace talks, criticising the move.
Israel decided to pull out came after the two rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah signed an accord on Wednesday agreeing to work together to create a coalition government. After seven years of division, the two factions say they now intend to hold elections later in the year and form a unity government for Gaza and the West Bank.
Gaza’s Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, said Israel’s response was disappointing but no surprise:
“The Israeli position was expected. This is occupation, and absolutely they do not want the Palestinian people to be united and want the division to continue,” Haniyeh said.
Palestinian legislator, Mustafa Barghouti, who had helped broker a deal between the two Palestinian factions accused Israel of being inconsistent.
“The Israeli statement against this unity agreement is very strange, when we are divided Mr. Netanyahu claims that he can not find a Palestinian that can represent all Palestinians and thus he cannot make peace and when we are united he claims that he cannot make peace with a unified Palestinian front, “ said Barghouti.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, who has been leading the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations, said both sides needed to make compromises.
“Well, there is always a way forward but the leaders have to make a compromise necessary to do that, We may see a way forward but if they are not willing to make the compromises necessary to make peace it will be elusive”.
A deadline for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement had been set for April 29 after nine months of negotiations,