Kerry: Israel’s reaction to Fatah-Hamas talks ‘appropriate’

WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Israel’s wait-and-see approach to Fatah-Hamas unity talks was “appropriate.”

He made the remarks in an interview Thursday night on PBS, adding that he was “disappointed that the [peace] process, what is in place, that that didn’t produce the next step.”

Asked about the negotiations on unity between Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement, Kerry said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “and Israel are waiting to see what happens with the Hamas reconciliation, with the announcement of a new government, with the question of what that new government may or may not choose to do. That’s an appropriate thing to be doing. We’re all waiting to see what happens.”

Both Israel and the United States regard Hamas as a terror group and have said the inclusion of Hamas in the government would present problems in cooperating with the Palestinian Authority.

An interim unity Palestinian government is expected to be announced in the coming days, paving the way for new elections.

Talks between Israel and the Palestinians, renewed last July at Kerry’s behest, collapsed in April over the Hamas-Fatah unity talks, as well as differences on settlement expansion, prisoner release and recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

President Obama, in an NPR interview after he delivered a major foreign policy speech on Wednesday, said he still held out hopes of resuming peace talks.

“I have not yet given up on the possibility that both Israelis and Palestinians can see their self-interest in a peace deal that would provide Israel security that’s recognized by its neighbors and make sure that Palestinians have a state of their own,” Obama said.

On Thursday, U.S. National Security Council Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said that the Obama administration “will not make decisions until we see the final formation of the interim government and have the opportunity to assess and make a determination about whether this is a government we can work with.”

In the PBS interview, Kerry repeated warnings he has made in recent months that neither party to the talks “can afford to simply maintain the status quo and believe that there’s a road to greater stability and to peace without re-engaging and without coming back at some point in time to the negotiating process.”

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