Jacob Walles, the US consul-general in Jerusalem, met on Tuesday with the Palestinian Finance Minister, Salaam Fayyad. The meeting is considered the first contact between the United States and the newly formed Palestinian National Unity Government.The Qatar-based Al Jazeera News Agency reported that the meeting came after Israel cancelled plans to meet with the Norwegian Foreign Minister after he held talks with the Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyya.
Unlike the United States, Norway officially recognized the Palestinian Unity government that brought Fateh and Hamas into a power sharing deal along with some other smaller factions and independent figures.
Meanwhile, Israel cancelled a planned meeting with Raymond Johansen, Norway's deputy foreign minister, after he met with the Haniyya from the Hamas party.
A spokeswoman of the US consulate in Jerusalem, Micaela Schweitzer, declined to confirm that the Fayyad-Walles meeting took place.
On his part, Walles only said that the United States stated that it will not suspend its talks “with individual Palestinian figures just because they hold a position at the unity government.
“We will hold individual talks”, Walles stated, “We will make decisions based on our evaluation of the situation."
Fayyad is an independent minister of the new government. He confirmed that the meeting took place, and said that it was aimed at ending the economic blockade which has been imposed on the Palestinians since Hamas won an overwhelming victory in the legislative elections last year.
Fayyad's statements came during an interview with the Associated Press. He added that the meeting took place in Ramallah city, north of Jerusalem.
“This meeting is part of my contact with the International Community”, Fayyad added.
He stated that this blockade encouraged inter-factional fighting, and caused civilian deaths and destruction to public and private facilities.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Minister of Information and spokesperson of the Unity Government, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, said that the Palestinian government is abiding by the international law.
Barghouthi stated that the Palestinians want to put an end to violence by establishing a full, comprehensive and reciprocal ceasefire with Israel, Al Jazeera reported.
He also said that the Palestinians would not need resistance if there wasn't an occupation of their land.
Barghouthi added that the Palestinians are living under occupation, and if there should be any conditions, they should be imposed on Israel since it occupies the Palestinian territories.
On Wednesday, the UN special envoy to the Middle East, Alvaro de Soto, will hold a meeting with Fayyad and the Palestinian Foreign Minister, Ziad Abu Amro, Palestinian officials told Reuters.
The United States and the United kingdom are still calling on the Palestinian government to abide by the conditions of the Quartet; recognize Israel, renounce violence, and recognize the previously signed peace deals.
The Quartet is comprised of the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.
Hamas repeatedly offered an extended truce with Israel but said that it cannot recognize it since it still occupies the Palestinian territories.