Fatah-Hamas deal is 'unhelpful' but Obama won't give up on peace

By Rosa Doherty, April 25, 2014

American President Barack Obama has suggested it is time for a pause in peace talks while Israel and Palestine consider their options.

Mr Obama told reporters that both sides should want to seek peace, but that neither of them has shown the political will to make tough decisions.

He made the comments today during a visit to South Korea, following the Israel's decision to suspend the peace talks after Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas had agreed to form a unity government.

He said the Palestinians' decision to unite the two factions is "unhelpful," but that his administration w ould not give up on Secretary of State John Kerry’s push for peace.

Following a six-hour meeting on Thursday, the Israeli Cabinet said they would "respond to unilateral Palestinian action with a series of measures."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who represents Fatah, was complicating ongoing peace talks.

He said: "Instead of moving into peace with Israel, he is moving into peace with Hamas and he has to choose.

“Does he want peace with Hamas or peace with Israel. You can have one, but not the other."

Mr Netanyahu said Hamas was a "murderous terror organi s ation that calls for the destruction of Israel."

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said he was not surprised by the Israeli response.

He said: "This is occupation, and absolutely they do not want the Palestinian people to be united and want the division to continue."

Last updated: 3:29pm, April 25 2014