Netanyahu rejects Palestinian reconciliation unless Hamas disarms

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Jerusalem (AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday Israel would reject any reconciliation deal between the two leading Palestinian factions unless the Iran-backed Islamist movement Hamas disarmed.

"We are not prepared to accept bogus reconciliations in which the Palestinian side apparently reconciles at the expense of our existence," Netanyahu said in a statement.

"Whoever wants to make such a reconciliation, our understanding is very clear: recognise the State of Israel, disband the Hamas military arm, sever the connection with Iran -- which calls for our destruction," Netanyahu added.

Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah began a three-day visit to Gaza on Monday as the two leading factions seek a reconciliation deal that could lead to a unity government.

The internationally recognised Palestinian Authority (PA) has signed a peace deal with Israel but Hamas, which runs Gaza and has fought three wars with the Jewish state since 2008, has not.

Hamas maintains a major military wing and senior officials have downplayed the idea of disarming in any reconciliation deal.

However PA president Mahmud Abbas said in an interview on Monday there would be "one state, one system, one law and one weapon" -- in an apparent reference to Hamas's military wing.