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Ban to Abbas: Unity gov't mustn't stop peace talks

February 7, 2012 10:06

UN chief calls PA president after reconciliation deal signed with Hamas in Qatar, tells Abbas to remain engaged with Israel.

Abbas, Qatar's al-Thani, and Mashaal

Abbas, Qatar's al-Thani, and Mashaal_390. (photo credit:Reuters)

Reconciliation between Palestinian Fatah and Hamas factions should not be seen as contradictory or mutually exclusive from negotiations with Israel, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told PA President Mahmoud Abbas in a Monday night phone call.

During the call, Ban expressed his hope that Abbas would remain engaged with the dialogue efforts led by Jordan's King Abdullah, referring to the recent round of low-level, exploratory talks held in Amman between Israel and Palestinian delegations last month.

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Ban's comments came after Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal signed an agreement Monday under the auspices of Qatar that if implemented will form a unity government with Abbas serving as interim prime minister.

The agreement is meant to pave the way for presidential and legislative elections.

Ban's remarks to Abbas contradicted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's comments upon hearing the news on Monday, who said Abbas had to choose between peace with Hamas, or peace with Israel, calling on the international community to intervene in order to "prevent the consummation of this marriage" with Hamas.

“If President Abbas moves to implement what was signed today in Doha, he will abandon the path of peace and join forces with the enemies of peace,” Netanyahu said. “Hamas is an enemy of peace. It’s an Iranian-backed terror organization committed to Israel’s destruction.”

Herb Keinon contributed to this report
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