In the weekly meeting held Sunday, the Israeli cabinet overwhelmingly stuck to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s position towards the new Palestinian Authority’s unity government.
19 Israeli ministers voted for Olmert’s stance to continue a boycott of the Palestinian coalition government, made up of Hamas, Fatah and other parliamentary blocs, while only two ministers, including an Arab, voted against.
Olmert was quoted as saying that although the new PA government is more moderate than the withdrawing Hamas-led government, it still falls short of the Quartet demands regarding recognition of Israel, renunciation of violence and acceptance of past signed agreements.
Nevertheless, Olmert confirmed that he would keep up contacts with the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, with focus on humanitarian concerns not on negotiation issues.
“I think that the new government’s platform limits our scope of dialogue and the points to be discussed with chairman Abbas”, Olmert maintained.
Olmert also said “we can not maintain contacts with a government that sees terror as a legitimate right and does not consider the demands of the Quartet (United Nations, United States, European Union, Russia)”.
Israel called on the international community to continue the economic sanctions imposed last March on the PA, until the PA government recognizes Israel’s right to exist, renounces violence and accepts previously signed agreements, demands set forth by the Quartet committee.
Palestinians announced Saturday their first ever national unity government, opening a new page in Palestinian politics, based on the respect of international legitimacy and acceptance of previous Palestine Liberation Organization’s obligations
The new government’s platform considers resistance as a legitimate inalienable right for the Palestinian people, respects all previously signed agreements with Israel and accepts a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital on the 1967 borders.
Israel still maintains strict military control over the West Bank and East Jerusalem and imposes control over Gaza’s main crossing points, sea and airspace.