The Obama Administration determined on Wednesday that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, despite having forged a new unity government, cannot be held responsible for terrorist rocket fire perpetrated by his regime’s citizens residing in the Gaza Strip.
Terrorists operating out of the Gaza Strip fired a rocket into southern Israel early Wednesday morning. The projectile narrowly missed a major traffic artery.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted that Abbas must be held accountable for such attacks, since he has now welcomed Gaza’s Hamas rulers into his government.
“I would like to remind the international community that [Abbas] - on the day he formed a government with the Hamas terrorist organization - promised to honor all previous agreements. This means that he is responsible for disarming Hamas and the other terrorist organizations of the arsenals in Gaza,” said Netanyahu.
The American government quickly rejected that assessment.
“We feel President Abbas needs to do everything possible to prevent [such attacks], [but] we understand that his ability to do that is severely limited at this point in time,” US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.
Abbas’ office soon after issued a pseudo-condemnation of the rocket attack, but not because it had targeted Israeli civilians, but rather because it hindered the current Palestinian agenda.
“The leadership calls on all Palestinian factions to honor the 2012 Cairo truce and the understandings of the reconciliation agreement out of keenness for the interest of the Palestinian people and their security and so as not to give Israel any excuse to continue its aggression against the Gaza Strip,” read the statement.
While that statement seemed to satisfy the Americans, Israeli leaders were unimpressed.
“President Abbas claims that the new Palestinian government honors all previous commitments. So why has he not disarmed the terrorist organizations in Gaza as he is obligated to do? Without such action his ‘condemnation’ of today’s rocket attack on Israel is nothing but empty rhetoric,” Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told The Jerusalem Post.
The episode highlighted the point Netanyahu and other Israeli officials have been making for years: that Abbas cannot be reasonably viewed as a viable peace partner if he is unable or unwilling to deliver on those peace obligations that are most important to Israel.