“As we have said before, the United States supports Palestinian reconciliation on terms which promote the cause of peace,” Vietor said. “Hamas, however, is a terrorist organization which targets civilians. To play a constructive role in achieving peace, any Palestinian government must accept the Quartet principles and renounce violence, abide by past agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist.”
Abu Marzook, the Hamas leader, said the conditions set by the Quartet, a group of Middle East mediators comprising the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, were not part of the reconciliation agreement.
Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, cautioned that it was too early to judge the significance of an agreement between two factions that rarely have been able to get along. Previous attempts at reconciliation have inevitably fallen apart because the two have widely divergent goals, he said.
As for the impact on peace prospects, “it doesn’t help at all, in the short term,” said Indyk, who served as an assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs in the Clinton administration, “unless by some miracle Fatah persuades Hamas to change its stripes.”
Aaron David Miller, a former U.S. adviser on Arab-Israeli negotiations, said the accord between the two Palestinian camps was prompted in part by concern about a spillover of popular unrest from the “Arab spring” uprisings in neighboring countries. The deal will create problems for Fatah in its relations with the United States, but it will “broaden their popular base,” Miller said.
“Abbas has ensured peace at home but also prospects of serious tensions abroad, with the United States and, of course, Israel,” said Miller, now a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.
Special correspondent Sherine Bayoumi in Cairo and staff writer Joby Warrick in Washington contributed to this report.