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White House Rejects Negotiations with New Palestinian Government


U.S. President George Bush will not negotiate with the new Palestinian government, because it does not accept international conditions including recognition of Israel's right to exist. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

President Bush Friday telephoned Saudi King Abdullah and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to discuss the new Palestinian government.

Rival groups Hamas and Fatah agreed on a unity government in Saudi-sponsored talks earlier this month. A vote of confidence is expected Saturday.

But White House Spokesman Tony Snow says President Bush will not negotiate with that government, because it refuses to accept conditions set by what is known as the Quartet for Middle East peace - comprising the United States, the United Nations, Russia, and the European Union.

Those conditions include recognizing Israel, renouncing violence, and abiding by past peace accords.

While Snow says the president accepts that Hamas and Fatah representatives were chosen in democratic elections, he says the United States does not have to agree with their decisions.

"He has accepted a democratic election, but on the other hand, he is not going to acknowledge a government that will not follow through the quartet," he said. "We are not going to deal directly, in terms of negotiations, with a government that doesn't adopt the quartet conditions."

Snow says the president made clear to the Saudi and Egyptian leaders that he still supports an independent Palestinian state that can live side-by-side in peace with Israel.

Israel has also refused to deal with the new Palestinian government because it does not recognize the Jewish state's right to exist. The Hamas charter calls for the destruction of Israel.

Palestinians hope the new government will end months of deadly factional fighting and lead to the lifting of a crippling Western aid embargo on the Palestinian Authority.

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