Israel Wants to Keep Int'l Community United Against PA 'Unity' Government

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:18 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - The biggest challenge for Israel following the formation of the Palestinian Authority "unity" government will be to keep the international community united against it, a senior Israeli official said.

Israel rejected any contacts with the new P.A. government on Sunday, although it said it would maintain minimal ties with P.A. Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. It is urging the international community to do the same thing, until the unity government recognizes the three principles established by the Quartet (recognition of Israel, disavowal of terrorism and agreement to abide by previous Israeli-PLO agreements).

The formation of the unity government between Hamas and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction was intended in part to break the international boycott imposed on the P.A. after the radical Hamas group won last year's parliamentary elections.

Especially troubling to Israel, the new Palestinian government's platform includes a pledge to continue the "resistance," which is a euphemism for terrorism.

There was some weakening in the international stand over the weekend, when Norway recognized the new unity government and agreed to resume aid to the Palestinian Authority. France invited the new P.A. foreign minister to visit.

So far, the United States has rejected contacts with the new government although it reportedly will maintain contact with Fatah members. The E.U. welcomed the new unity government but said it could only deal with a government that abides by the Quartet principles.

Some analysts have noted that the platform of the new Palestinian government is vague enough to be considered as meeting the international standards.

The Israeli daily Ha'aretz quoted unnamed Israeli political sources on Monday as saying that the newly formed P.A. unity government would not succeed in breaking the international financial boycott imposed last year. "The story is money, and they won't get it for the time being," the sources said.

But Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's spokeswoman Miri Eisen admitted that the "biggest issue" would be trying to keep the international community united in its stand against the P.A. government until it accepts the three international principles.

The new government has to abide by the international principles. The international community should not change its principles to suit the new Palestinian government, Eisen told Cybercast News Service.

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