US Brokered Palestinian Unity Government

 Senior Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmed (l) with head of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, after announcing a unity government for Palestine.

Senior Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmed (l) with head of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, after announcing a unity government for Palestine.

American officials secretly held talks with Hamas for the last six months that led to the new Palestinian unity government with Fatah, according to published reports.

The talks were held outside of the Gaza Strip, according to Buzzfeed – Qatar, Egypt, and Jordan were named in the article.

During the negotiations, Hamas gave assurances to the United States on a wide range of issues, including commitment to the ceasefire agreement with Israel after Operation Pillar of Defense and the formation of a Palestinian unity government, according to the sources.

This allowed the U.S. to back the new unity government, despite telling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that there would be no immediate recognition.

“Our administration needed to hear from them that this unity government would move toward democratic elections, and toward a more peaceful resolution with the entire region,” said one U.S. official familiar with the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity

Although the U.S. government’s official stance is that it has not, and will not, talk to Hamas until certain preconditions are met, “It was important to have that line of communication,” the U.S. official said.

State Dept. spokeswoman Marie Harf

Spokeswoman Marie Harf

The State Department has denied the backchannel talks took place. “These assertions are completely untrue,” Spokeswoman Marie Harf said. “There is no such back channel. Our position on Hamas has not changed.”

The U.S. has previously denied secret backchannels to Hamas existed in the past; in 2012, then-spokeswoman Victoria Nuland claimed that reports of such a back channel were “bizarre.”

Israel has also makes use of mediators, usually Egypt, in order to talk to Hamas, most notably at the end of Operation Pillar of Defense and after other military operations.

After backing the Palestinian unity government, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. would continue to make sure Hamas “toed the line” or risk the loss of American financial aid. Secretary Kerry also emphasized the United States would not formally recognize Hamas until the radical Islamist group renounced violence.

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