Netanyahu rips Palestinian unity government before its swearing-in

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized European acceptance of a Palestinian unity government just hours before its new ministers were sworn in.

“It is surprising for me that European governments, which vehemently condemned the Brussels shooting, talk collegially or even in a friendly tone about the Palestinian unity government with Hamas,” Netanyahu said Monday morning at a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. “This is a terrorist organization which undertakes criminal attacks and boasts about them.”

The Palestinian unity government was sworn in Monday by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, the capital of the Palestinian Authority.

The ceremony was almost delayed by last-minute fighting over the configuration of the new Cabinet and a threat of boycott by Hamas.

Israel stopped actively looking for ways to continue American-backed peace talks with the Palestinians after the announcement that Abbas’ Fatah party had agreed to form a unity government with Hamas.

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