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Shimon Peres: Palestinian Unity Government a Facade


A senior Israeli politician says he does not believe Palestinian efforts to form a unity government would help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. VOA's Jim Teeple reports from Jerusalem.

Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres told Israel Radio that efforts to form a Palestinian unity government are a fa├žade.

Peres says even if a unity government made up of technocrats is formed, it will be dominated by the Islamic militant group Hamas. He says Hamas is only supporting efforts to form a new government to get economic assistance to the Palestinians re-started.

Most international assistance and customs and tax revenue that Israel turns over the Palestinians has been suspended because the Hamas government refuses to recognize Israel. Peres says Hamas will not recognize Israel even if Israel returns to its 1967 borders.

Last week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said efforts to form a unity Palestinian government had come to a dead end. The efforts have reportedly stalled over who will control key cabinet posts in a future government.

Key aides to Mr. Abbas have told Israeli and Palestinian media outlets he is expected to call for new elections in a major address to the Palestinian people next week.

Meanwhile, Israeli troops opened fire on Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip for the first time since a ceasefire went into effect on November 26. In two separate incidents, Israeli forces say they shot and wounded two Palestinian militants who were acting suspiciously on the Palestinian side of the Gaza border. Israel withdrew its forces from Gaza when the truce took effect.