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Israeli Foreign Minister Says Palestinian Government Does Not Satisfy Demands

  • VOA News

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni says a new Palestinian unity government does not satisfy the demands of the international community.

Livni made the comments on Saturday before meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Jerusalem.

The Palestinian coalition government has not explicitly said it will recognize Israel -- a condition that Washington demands.

Also on Saturday, aides to the Palestinian president said he has asked a U.S. envoy to give the new unity government a chance.

Officials on Saturday told reporters that Mr. Abbas told U.S. envoy David Welch that the agreement between the moderate Fatah faction and the Islamic militant group Hamas was the best deal they could reach.

Rice is in Israel for meetings aimed at reviving stalled peace talks between the Israeli and Palestinian governments.

She is scheduled to hold a three-way meeting with Mr. Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday. She is set to meet with them separately on Sunday.

Rice has said the upcoming meeting on Monday will be an informal discussion of what a two-state solution of the Middle East conflict will entail.

Her trip follows a Saudi-brokered agreement on February 8th to form a Palestinian unity government between Mr. Abbas' Fatah faction and Hamas.

Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas said Friday he hopes to form a new government within three weeks. Rice says the United States will reserve judgment on the new Palestinian government until it is formed.

International donors froze aid to the Palestinian Authority after Hamas took power last year, because of the militant group's refusal to renounce violence and recognize Israel.

The United States and Israel classify Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Rice is scheduled to visit Jordan later in the week before heading to Berlin for a meeting of the international Quartet for Mideast peace. The Quartet is comprised of the United States, the United Nations, Russia and the European Union.
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