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Israel Rejects New Palestinian Unity Government

  • VOA News

Rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah have formed a unity government after months of talks, but Israel rejected it because the platform does not recognize the Jewish state's right to exist.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of the Islamic militant group, Hamas, presented the Cabinet list to President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah Thursday. A vote of confidence is set for Saturday in parliament.

The Palestinians hope the deal will end months of deadly factional fighting and halt a crippling Western aid embargo on the Palestinian Authority.

But Israeli officials say the Jewish state will not deal with the government and urged the international community to also not recognize it.

The State Department says the United States will reserve judgment on the government until there is an understanding of its new platform.

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The White House says President Bush hopes the Palestinian government will honor demands by the international Quartet for Middle East peace (comprising the United States, the United Nations, Russia and the European Union). The Quartet says the Palestinian Authority must recognize Israel and renounce violence.

News agencies report that the unity agreement affirms the Palestinians' right to continue to resist Israel, while authorizing President Abbas to negotiate with the Jewish state.

Hamas' charter calls for the destruction of Israel. The United States, Israel and the European Union classify Hamas as a terrorist group.

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