Netanyahu rules out talks with Palestinians

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is rejecting the possibility of dealing with the new Palestinian unity government of Fatah and Hamas.

“I will not as the prime minister of Israel negotiate with a government that is backed by the Hamas terror organization and is committed to our destruction,” Netanyahu said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“We will not negotiate with a government backed by Hamas unless Hamas has changed its position, unless Hamas said, ‘Oh, I’m willing to recognize Israel,’” he added.

Israel suspended peace talks with the Palestinians last week, after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced a deal with Hamas, which the U.S. recognizes as a terrorist organization. That effectively killed Secretary of State John Kerry’s months-long efforts to get the two sides to get together.

“I thought we were on route to making more progress,” Netanyahu explained on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

He added that he was “shocked” about Abbas’s deal with Hamas.

“We were absolutely stupefied that President Abbas embraced the terrorist organization Hamas that seeks Israel's destruction. It's just incompatible with peace,” he said.

Abbas has reportedly told Kerry that the new unity government will recognize the state of Israel and renounce violence, and on Sunday he called the Holocaust the “most heinous crime” of modern history, which seemed to be an outreach to the Israelis in the wake of the unity deal. Sunday is Holocaust Remembrance Day around the world, but many Hamas leaders have denied the existence or the severity of the Holocaust.

“I think probably what he’s trying to do is damage control,” Netanyahu retorted on CNN.

“I think what he’s trying to do is placate western opinion. He understands he delivered a major blow to the peace process by embracing these Hamas terrorists. I think he’s trying to wiggle his way out of it.”

White House Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken left open the possibility of cutting off U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority, if the new government refused to recognize Israel or renounce terrorism.

“If the government didn’t do that, yes,” he said in a separate segment on “State of the Union.”