When Fatah, his secular-nationalist movement, agreed to the latest attempt to form a unity government with the Islamist terror group Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas said the new government would recognize Israel's right to exist, abide by all prior agreements, and renounce violence.
Hamas, which wrested control of the Gaza Strip from Fatah in a bloody 2006 coup, would have none of that.
Mussa Abu Marzuq, the organization's head of external affairs, said Hamas will never recognize Israel nor give up armed struggle (its euphemism for terror) as demanded by Israel and the international Quartet overseeing peacemaking as the price of a seat at the peace table.
He couldn't even bring himself to mention the name of the Jewish state. "We will not recognize the Zionist entity," he told a Gaza City press conference, according to Agence France-Presse news agency.
Marzuq, a longstanding advocate of armed resistance, said, "Hamas rejects the Quartet's conditions because it denies some of our people's rights."
That was confirmed by another senior Hamas official, who told Al-Monitor website, "The reconciliation will not be at the expense of the military wings of the resistance, which represents the national army of the state of Palestine. Handing over Qassam weapons is impossible and nondebatable."
Hamas has consistently called – and worked – for the elimination of the Jewish state and has opposed the two-state solution that Abbas says is the core policy of the Palestinian Authority which Hamas is supposed to be joining.
Despite Abbas' assurances the Fatah-Hamas government would reject violence, Marzuq said disarming Hamas' armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Quassam Brigagdes was "never mentioned" in unity talks with the PLO, AFP reported
In the wake of the Fatah-Hamas agreement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "suspended" all peace talks with the Palestinians, which already had effectively ended in mutual recriminations and finger pointing. But one of his cabinet colleagues tried to keep the door open a crack. Yair Lapid, the finance minister who heads the centrist Yesh Atid party, said that if Hamas followed the example of the PLO and recognized Israel and renounced terror, it could have a seat at the table. So far it doesn't seem interested.
The two antagonists in the US-led negotiations had achieved their goal — scuttle the talks and be able to blame the other side for their failure. There's more than enough guilt to go around not just for Israel, Palestine and the United States but also for the Arab states, the Europeans and the Russians, all of who chose to sit on the sidelines offering useless advice but unwilling to get into the game.