PM Netanyahu and wife Sarah headed to London 311.
(photo credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu landed in London early Wednesday in a trip where he is expected to lobby European leaders against a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement.
Before departing Israel on Tuesday night, the prime minister called on Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas to drop the unity agreement with Hamas that he is
expected to sign in Cairo on Wednesday.
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In England, where he
plans to meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron, and than again in
France when he meets with President Nicholas Sarkozy, Netanyahu is expected to
urge them not to recognize a Fatah-Hamas government.
have defended the unity agreement, saying reconciliation with Hamas reflects a
deep-seated public desire to end internal differences.
Tuesday, Hamas officials were quoted as saying that the Islamist group would
continue to honor its unofficial truce with Israel after signing the unity deal
The agreement was signed by several smaller Palestinian
factions on Tuesday.
Izzat al-Rishq, a Hamas spokesman, said all
Palestinian factions and independent Palestinian politicians met in Cairo on
Tuesday to discuss the agreement.
“All the factions signed today
[Tuesday], and tomorrow we will celebrate the reconciliation under Egyptian
patronage and in the presence of Abbas and [Hamas chief] Khaled Meshaal,” he
Another Palestinian official, who declined to be
identified, said the smaller factions had inked the deal to show their backing
for reconciliation, but that the ceremonial signing would take place on
Wednesday between the two big factions.
“Fatah and Hamas will sign with
full names tomorrow in a signing ceremony celebrated by all,” the official
Diplomats said foreign and Arab dignitaries, including European
Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet
Davutoglu, were invited to the ceremony.
An EU spokeswoman in Cairo said
Ashton was invited but that the mission could not confirm that she would attend.
The PA interim government, which Palestinian officials said would consist of
independent technocrats with no affiliation to either faction, is to prepare for
parliamentary and presidential elections within a year.
Egypt has said it
will help oversee the implementation of the accord.
have had a cautious approach to the unity agreement. They wanted Hamas and Fatah
to come together, but at the same time envisioned that it would come hand in
hand with a recognition of the State of Israel, a renunciation of terrorism and
an acceptance of all past agreements.
Hamas has continued to reject all
Netanyahu is expected to tell Cameron and Sarkozy that
they should not recognize the new government until these terms are
He will also discuss wider regional issues, such as Iran, the
killing of Osama bin Laden and the upheavals in neighboring
The trip was initially designed with an eye to thwarting a bid
by the PA to seek recognition of unilaterally declared statehood at the United
It was scheduled in advance of a trip later this month to the
United States in which Netanyahu was expected to deliver a major address on the
stalled peace process to a joint session of Congress.
Since the European
trip was planned, however, a number of events have expanded the agenda,
including the killing of bin Laden and the Hamas-Fatah unity
Speaking before his Tuesday evening departure, Netanyahu made a direct plea to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to reverse course on the reconciliation agreement.
“I call on Abu Mazen [Abbas] to annul the agreement with
Hamas immediately and choose the path of peace with Israel,” Netanyahu said as
he met in Jerusalem with Quartet envoy Tony Blair.
“The agreement between
the Palestinian Authority and Hamas is a hard blow to the peace process. How is
it possible to achieve peace with a government – half of which calls for the
destruction of the State of Israel and even praises the arch-murderer Osama bin
Laden?” the prime minister asked.Reuters and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.