UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for patience Monday to give the rival Fatah and Hamas factions in the new Palestinian unity government time to coordinate their positions and hopefully recognize Israel and renounce violence.
The Quartet of international mediators trying to promote Mideast peace - the UN, the US, the European Union and Russia - has demanded that the coalition government meet those conditions and accept past peace agreements. But with Hamas refusing to do so, international sanctions have remained in place, preventing millions of dollars from flowing through the Palestinian Cabinet.
Ban, who just returned from an 11-day Mideast trip, said Palestinian Foreign Minister Ziad Abu Amr, an independent Cabinet member, "assured me that his government will continue to work to meet the expectations of the international community."
From his meetings with the foreign minister and others, however, the secretary-general said "it may take time for them to make their own positions coordinated among themselves."
"Therefore, I would hope that while the international community encouraged them to change their positions and perform well in meeting the expectations of the international community, we would also hope to be a little bit patient on this matter," Ban said.
He noted that the Quartet has decided to wait and see how the Palestinian government, particularly Hamas, "will perform in terms of all these international expectations."
In addition to visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories, Ban attended last week's Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia where a dormant 2002 Saudi peace initiative was relaunched. It offers peace with Israel in exchange for a full Israeli withdrawal from lands captured in the 1967 Mideast War.
He said he was encouraged that Arab leaders "are determined to visit this issue again as a foundation for establishing a good relationship and peace between Israel and Arab countries, and particularly between Israel and the Palestinian authorities."