High Representative of the European Union Catherine Ashton has officially welcomed the formation of a Palestinian unity government. Meanwhile, Israeli officials have announced a boycott against the new government.Ashton: ‘We welcome the appointment of a government of independent personalities and the declaration by President Abbas that this new government is committed to the principle of the two state solution based on the 1967 borders, to the recognition of Israel’s legitimate right to exist, to non-violence and to the respect of previous agreements’.

‘We take note of the news of the establishment of a Palestinian national consensus government headed by Prime Minister Hamdallah This is an important step in the process of Palestinian reconciliation,’ she stated, according to the PNN.

Both the US and EU’s relationship with the new government is to be based on its adherence to policies and commitments recognized by the Mideast Quartet.

Meanwhile, according to the Alternative News Center (AIC) in Beit Sahour, Israel has officially notified the Palestinian government that it had put into effect sanctions in response to the new unity government which includes Hamas. The Palestinian prime minister denounced these decisions, calling them interference in internal Palestinian affairs.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had failed to isolate the national unity government:

‘Netanyahu employed the division to weaken the political stand of Palestine, and he used it to hide his negative attitudes toward the rights of the Palestinian people,” the statement said.

The Israeli PM was recently quoted as saying that Abbas chose to reconcile with Hamas, a movement regarded by both Israel and the United States, as a “terrorist group”, therefore, “the Palestinian President proved he is not interested in peace.”

He also accused Abbas of taking a hardline stance, and of not showing any flexibility in direct talks with Tel Aviv, meanwhile boasting of his settlement building achievements in a recent meeting with young Likud supporters:

Responding to a question from the audience, Netanyahu said, “I was threatened in Washington: ‘not one brick’ [of settlement construction] … after five years, we built a little more than one brick…”

Asked “about peace talks with the Palestinians,” Netanyahu reportedly replied, “about the – what?” to which the audience responded by breaking out into laughter.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has denounced theIsraeli decisions, AIC reports, considering them an interference with Palestinian internal affairs which demonstrates the racist character of Israel.

Hamdallah, on Tuesday, thanked the international community, the European Union and United States for their willingness to continue to cooperate, stressing that the new government is committed to the PLO’s political agenda and will honor agreements previously signed between the PLO and Israel.

In related news, 18 Human Rights Organizations recently signed a letter requesting immediate intervention from Ashton in regard to the mass hunger strike, currently in progress, in which over 100 Palestinian detainees and prisoners are refusing food in protest of Israel’s administrative detention policy.

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