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US May Work with Non-Hamas Members of Palestinian Government


The United States says it may be willing to work with some officials in the new Palestinian unity government, but will maintain a ban on contact with members of Hamas including the prime minister.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem said Sunday the United States will continue its policy of not having contact with members of foreign terrorist groups. The United States lists Hamas as a terrorist group.

Israel says it will not work with the new Palestinian unity government because it does not reject violence or recognize Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday he will maintain contact with moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of the Fatah movement. He also said he hopes the international community will continue a boycott of the Palestinian Authority.

The new Palestinian unity government was to hold its first Cabinet meeting Sunday in Gaza City.

Some of the new ministers were to take part in the session by video link because of an Israeli ban on travel in the West Bank.

The rival Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas formed the unity government last week in hope of ending a crippling Western embargo against the Palestinian Authority, and halting months of factional fighting that has left more than 130 people dead.

The Fatah and Hamas coalition was approved by parliament Saturday.

In contrasting speeches Saturday, Mr. Abbas said the Palestinians reject violence, and are ready to negotiate peace, while Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas maintained the right to resist Israeli occupation.