After four years of division, Fatah and Hamas have agreed to form a joint government to end the split between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. However, Israel has indicated it would not support the deal.
Israel has rejected a unity deal reached between rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas, under which Fatah leader and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas will assume a role at the helm of the new government.
Israel refuses to have any diplomatic dealings with Hamas, whose party charter calls for Israel to be replaced by an Islamic state across historic Palestine.
"I say to Abu Mazen [President Abbas], you cannot grasp the stick at both ends. It is either peace with Hamas or peace with Israel, you cannot have both," Netanyahu told a Likud party caucus in Jerusalem, adding that "Hamas and peace do not go together."
UN Secretary Geneal Ban Ki-moon, meanwhile, urged Abbas not to abandon talks with Israel. Ban "pointed out that the two tracks, or Palestinian reconciliation and negotiations with Israel, should not be seen as contradictory and mutually exclusive," a spokesman said.
Abbas and Khaled Mashaal, the chief of the militant Islamic group Hamas, signed the agreement in the Gulf nation of Qatar, whose government helped broker the deal.
"We promise our people to implement this agreement as soon as possible," Abbas said Monday.
Palestine has been politically divided between the Gaza Strip and West Bank since 2006, when Hamas beat the secular Fatah movement in parliamentary elections. Hamas then kicked Fatah out of the Gaza Strip after a series of deadly clashes in June 2007.
Under Monday's agreement, Abbas is set to become prime minister of the unity government, replacing Western-backed Salam Fayyad. The two factions originally agreed to the reconciliation deal in May 2011 in Cairo, but disagreements over who would head the unity government had delayed a final deal. Hamas was opposed to Fayyad.
Mashaal said that Hamas and Fatah were "serious about healing the wounds" in order to "reunite our people on the foundation of a political partnership in order to devote our effort to resisting the (Israeli) occupation."
The Palestinian factions agreed to hold elections, currently scheduled for May, as quickly as possible.
"We agreed on the importance of holding the elections quickly … and removing any obstacles that might delay the polls," said Fatah spokesman Azzam al-Ahmad.
Israel: Abbas must choose
The European Union, meanwhile, issued a statement saying it would support a new Palestinian unity government, provided it remained peaceful.
"The EU has consistently called for intra-Palestinian reconciliation behind President Mahmoud Abbas as an important element for the unity of a future Palestinian state and for reaching a two-state solution," Michael Mann, spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said in Brussels. "The EU looks forward to continuing its support, including through direct financial assistance, for a new Palestinian government that should uphold the principle of non-violence."
slk/msh/ccp/dfm (AP, AFP, Reuters)