Israel will not negotiate with Hamas-backed Palestinian gov’t – Netanyahu

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated on Sunday that his government would not take part in Middle East peace talks with a Palestinian government backed by Islamist group Hamas, according to Reuters. Netanyahu also said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s comments earlier on Sunday denouncing the Holocaust could not be reconciled with his alliance with Hamas.

“We will not negotiate with a government backed by Hamas,” Netanyahu said on the CNN program “State of the Union.”

Israel on Thursday suspended US-sponsored peace talks with the Palestinians after Abbas announced a unity pact with the rival Palestinian group. Hamas is viewed by the United States, the European Union and Israel as a terrorist organization.

Apparently seeking to build bridges, Abbas said in a statement released on Sunday that the Nazi Holocaust was “the most heinous crime” against humanity in modern times.

Abbas has condemned the mass killings of Jews in World War Two before and challenged allegations, stemming from a 1983 book he authored, that he is a Holocaust denier.

“President Abbas can’t have it both ways. He can’t say the Holocaust is terrible but at the same time embrace those who deny the Holocaust and seek to perpetrate another destruction of the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said on CNN.

“I think what President Abbas is trying to do is to placate Western public opinion that understands that he delivered a terrible blow to the peace process,” he said.

Holocaust ‘most heinous crime’ of modern era – Palestine’s Abbas

What happened to the Jewish people in the Nazi Holocaust was “the most heinous crime” against humanity in the modern era, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said in a statement Sunday.

He also expressed sympathy with the families of the victims in a statement in English which was released as Israel was to begin marking Holocaust remembrance day at sundown, AFP reports.

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