Hamas could take over P.A., Netanyahu says, calling for security for Israel


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed concern that Hamas would take over the Palestinian Authority before or after a peace agreement.

"In Egypt, the regime has been replaced, in Syria the regime is being shaken and this could also happen in the Palestinian Authority areas in Judea and Samaria," Netanyahu said Tuesday. "Everyone knows that Hamas could take over the Palestinian Authority. It could happen after an agreement, it could happen before an agreement, like it happened in Gaza."

His comments appeared to be directed at Israeli President Shimon Peres, who told a group of Israeli diplomats that Israel must press hard and fast for a peace agreement with the Palestinians and that P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas is the person with whom Israel can make peace.

Netanyahu spoke during a Bible study at his official residence in Jerusalem in which the participants discussed the coming week’s Torah portion, which states that "A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph."

Israel’s security must be achieved before he makes concessions to the Palestinians, the prime minister said.

"As opposed to the voices that I have heard recently urging me to run forward, make concessions [and] withdraw, I think that the diplomatic process must be managed responsibly and sagaciously and not in undue haste," Netanyahu said. "Otherwise a third base for Iranian terrorism will arise here, in the heart of the country. Peace can be achieved only when security is assured."

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