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Israel: New Palestinian Government Must Recognize Israel, Renounce Violence


Israeli officials say any new Palestinian unity government must recognize Israel and renounce violence if it is to gain international acceptance. VOA's Jim Teeple reports from Jerusalem the leaders of the Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah met in Saudi Arabia to try to end a deadly power struggle.

Israeli officials say if Hamas and Fatah manage to reconcile and form a unity government , any new government must recognize Israel, renounce violence, and respect previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

Hamas, which has controlled the Palestinian Authority since winning legislative elections last January, has rejected all three conditions.

The last round of unity government talks between Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads Fatah, in Damascus on January 21 foundered in part because of differences between Hamas and Fatah over policy towards Israel.

Speaking late Tuesday to a group of American Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called for President Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen not to give in to Hamas during the current unity government talks in Saudi Arabia.

"I hope that Abu Mazen will resist all the temptations and all the pressures to cooperate with Hamas and to establish and a government which does not recognize these basic principles which were the guidelines for all the policies of the international community," said Mr. Olmert.

Mr. Olmert's remarks were echoed Tuesday by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and by British Foreign Minister Margaret Becket. After holding talks with Israeli officials, the British diplomat said a new Palestinian government will have to meet the demands of the so-called Middle East Peace Quartet - the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.

Last week Quartet officials endorsed a three-way meeting between Mr. Olmert, Mr. Abbas and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on February 19. The meeting is expected to address so-called final-status issues such as Israel's border with the Palestinians, refugees and the status of Jerusalem.

Last year the Quartet issued a statement that said Hamas should be excluded from Middle East peace efforts and development aid until it recognizes Israel, and renounces violence.

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