Netanyahu: 'I Will Not Negotiate With a Government That is Backed by the Hamas Terrorist Organization'

Lays down the gauntlet in peace talks with Palestinians

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared on CNN's State of the Union and told host Candy Crowley, "I will not negotiate with a government that is backed by the Hamas terrorist organization."

This was in reaction to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who recently said, "The government reports to me and follows my policies. I recognize Israel and so will the government. I renounce violence and terrorism, and I recognize international legitimacy, and so will the government."

Here is part of Netanyahu's statement on CNN:

Look, I will not, as the prime minister of Israel, negotiate with a government that is backed by the Hamas terror organization committed to our destruction. Neither would you. You designate Hamas, the U.S., as a terrorist organization. It sends thousands of rockets into Israel. It sends scores of suicide bombers. It praised the murder of the father of five the other week on a way to a Passover dinner -- praised it. They praised bin Laden when he was alive as a holy warrior and condemned the United States when you killed bin Laden. This is one of the most preeminent terrorist organizations of our time. Obviously the U.S. abhors it, as we do. And nobody expects us to negotiate with a government that is backed by it. 

We won't negotiate with a government backed by Hamas unless Hamas had changed its position, unless Hamas said I'm willing to recognize Israel. But Hamas, including after this pact with Abbas, is saying the very opposite -- that Israel will be destroyed, they'll continue the terror campaign against Israel. This is the partner that President Abbas has now joined. And I call on President Abbas to tear up your pact with Hamas. Recognize the Jewish state.

Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi appeared on the show after Netanyahu and said she was "surprised" by Netanyahu's defiance. She says that Netanyahu is the one holding back peace talks. She defends the Palestinian governments stance of denouncing violence and recognizing Israel. She added:

You don't go to individual parties and factions and ask them to recognize countries. Only countries recognize countries.