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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Confusion in Israel over Hamas-Fatah deal

Israeli officials have decided not to decide about the Fatah - Hamas pact.
Two articles, two opinions. Israel is studying the details of the agreement, but we have not seen any published text of this agreement.

Last update - 11:24 11/02/2007   

PM: No stance taken on Hamas-Fatah pact as yet
By Aluf Benn, Avi Issacharoff and Gideon Alon, Haaretz Correspondents
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday said that Israel is yet to form its stance on the Mecca Accord on a Palestinian unity government signed between the rival Fatah and Hamas factions last week.
Speaking at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting, Olmert said that "Israel is not rejecting nor is it embracing the Mecca Accord. Israel is studying the details of the agreement."
Olmert told the ministers that he spoke recently to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the Mecca Accord. The premier said he was pleased to hear from Putin that Russia is still backing the position of the Quartet on Middle East peace negotiations.
The prime minister's statement came after unnamed government sources said Saturday that Israel rejects the agreement. It said the accord is not in line with the Quartet of Middle East mediators' conditions - recognition of Israel, renouncing violence, and ratifying past agreements and the road map.
Government sources said Israel would insist on the three conditions, which are expected to be the focus of the tri-partite summit between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice next Monday.
The sources said the controversy over the new Palestinian government and its accepting the Quartet's demands casts a heavy shadow on the triangle summit. Since the Palestinian government will not be formed by next Monday, the argument on the Mecca agreement will not cast doubt on the summit's existence. However, any progress in the peace talks is conditional on the Palestinian government's fulfilling the Quartet's demands, they said.
A political adviser to Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas said Saturday that the unity government would not recognize Israel.
"The issue of recognition was not addressed at all [in Mecca]," Ahmed Youssef said. "In the platform of the new government there will be no sign of recognition [of Israel], regardless of the pressures the United States and the Quartet would exert," he said.
A senior source in Jerusalem said earlier Saturday that all the signs indicated that the new Palestinian government would not accept the Quartet's conditions, not even by implication.
He said the new government may raise other problems. "Until now there was a clear distinction between Abbas and the Hamas government and it was convenient for us to talk and make progress with one side. Fatah's entering the government would blur that distinction. The question would be raised whether to transfer funds to a government whose finance minister is Salam Fayyad."
Fayyad is a much respected leader in the United States and the international community.
Israel made a diplomatic effort over the weekend to prevent any of the Quartet's conditions from being watered down as a result of the Mecca agreement. The Quartet's foreign ministers issued a statement on Friday reiterating its demand that any Palestinian government renounce violence, recognize Israel and respect peace deals in order to receive Western aid.
In a joint statement, the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States withheld judgment on whether a new national unity government, to be formed by rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah, met its conditions.
"The Quartet welcomes the role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in reaching the agreement to form a Palestinian national unity government. The Quartet expresses hope that the desired calm will prevail," the group said in the statement released by the U.S. State Department after a Quartet conference call.
However, Russia on Friday welcomed the Mecca agreement to form a unity government and appealed for the freeze on direct aid to the Palestinian government to be lifted.
The Quartet's ministers will meet in Berlin in 10 days − two days after the Olmert-Abbas-Rice summit − to discuss the developments.
A senior Israeli source said the Quartet's statement made it clear that any Palestinian government must adopt the three conditions in full.
"At the end of the Mecca meeting, the Palestinians made no statement agreeing to those terms. The terror acts against Israel continue, including Qassams and smuggling munitions to Gaza and kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit has not been released yet," he said.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who took part in a global security conference in Munich, met Javier Solana, the European Union's defense and security coordinator, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the foreign ministers of Austria, Slovakia, Sweden and the Czech Republic. She spoke to Rice twice on the telephone as well as with her German, British and Norwegian counterparts.
Livni said the international community and Europe in particular must insist on the Quartet's conditions.
The cabinet on Sunday will discuss the implications of the Mecca agreement and hear intelligence surveys about it from the Shin Bet and Military Intelligence.

Israel snubs Mecca deal

In first official statement, officials in Jerusalem say Hamas-Fatah deal fails to meet Quartet preconditions and 'is not what Israel expected'. Israel does not outright reject the agreement and will continue to monitor developments, officials add
Attila Somfalvi Published:  02.09.07, 22:55 / Israel News

Israeli officials in Jerusalem on Friday snubbed the unity government deal reached between Hamas and Fatah in Mecca, saying it failed to meet the preconditions set by the Quartet.
The officials stressed, however, that they also did not reject the Palestinian agreement outright.

Following days of negotiations hosted in Mecca in Saudi Arabia, Hamas and Fatah representatives signed a deal dividing cabinet portfolios and diplomatic positions between the two parties. The deal noted that both sides must uphold previous deals signed by the PLO, but omitted any direct mention of Israel.

"This isn't what we expected," Jerusalem officials commented. "The international community – the Quartet – clearly established that any Palestinian government must fully adopt the following three preconditions: Recognize Israel's right to exist, halt terror activities, and implement all previous agreements reached, including the Road Map."

"Even though the future Palestinian government has not yet established its Basic Principles, the appointment letter issued by (Palestinian President) Mahmoud Abbas makes it clear that the conditions were not upheld," officials added.

"Israel stresses that terror activity against it is continuing, and Gilad Shalit has not yet been released. We will continue to examine developments in light of the Quartet's
clear conditions. Israel expects the international community to continue to show determination and stand behind its principles to bring about their full implementation," they declared. 

However, they stressed that Israel did not fully reject the agreements either. "We will continue to monitor developments," they said.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, currently visiting Germany, responded to the Palestinian deal, saying, "Hamas does not represent the interests of the Palestinian people."

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