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US, Israel on standby as Egypt pushes Palestinian reconciliation

The United States and Israel are laying low while Egypt tries to end the rift between Fatah and Hamas, which Cairo sees as an obstacle to regional peace and security.

Israel facilitated the entry of Palestinian Authority (PA) Cabinet ministers into Gaza on Oct. 2 to attend a reconciliation meeting between Fatah and Hamas. It took Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a day to respond to the event. Speaking at a Likud meeting in the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, Netanyahu said, “We expect everyone who talks about a peace process to recognize the State of Israel and, of course, to recognize a Jewish state.” He added, “Whoever wants to make such a reconciliation, our understanding is very clear: Recognize the State of Israel, disband the Hamas military arm, sever the connection with Iran, which calls for our destruction.”

Contrary to past statements by Netanyahu opposing Palestinian reconciliation, his props this time did not include threats against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas or warnings of sanctions. Most of all, his choice of words differed in expression from that in April 2014, when Hamas and Fatah announced the establishment of a national unity government. “Abbas would rather have unity with Hamas than peace with Israel,” Netanyahu had tweeted.

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