Labor, Kadima split on new PA gov't

Peres urges international community to "stand firm," Sneh: "Israel should call for negotiations with the new government."

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March 18, 2007 01:53
1 minute read.
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The formation of a unity government between the two biggest Palestinian factions may have created a new rift between Israel's two largest parties. As weeks of Fatah and Hamas negotiations ended Saturday, Labor and Kadima appeared split on how to regard the new PA government. Vice Premier Shimon Peres (Kadima) encouraged the international community to "stand firm" in isolating the PA government. "If this is a government that does not renounce terror, if this is a government that does not want to conduct peace talks, why should it be helped?" said Peres. Meanwhile Labor MKs Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh, and Science, Culture, and Sports Minister Ghaleb Majadle, said that Israel should call for negotiations with the new government. "Under certain circumstances, Israel may consider engaging in dialogue with some Palestinian ministers," said Sneh. Earlier in the day, Sneh had told Army Radio that negotiations with Abbas would "pull the carpet out from under Hamas's feet," and that Israel should "seize the authorization given to Abu Mazen [Abbas] by the half-Hamas government to negotiate with Israel." Majadle said that many of the Fatah lawmakers were supporters of the Oslo Accords and had many "shared interests" with Israel. "Boycotting [the Fatah representatives] won't do a thing for Israel, or strengthen the government," said Majadle. Meretz chairman Yossi Beilin also urged Israel to begin negotiations with the new PA government, saying it could be a turning point in their relationship. Beilin told Army Radio on Saturday that rather than fighting to boycott the PA, a move that would back Israel into a corner as the only nation doing so, Israel should make an immediate move to reach an agreement with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) under Abbas's leadership. In addition, Beilin proposed, Israel should hold talks with the new ministers who are not affiliated with Hamas and present them with practical goals. If the PA were to meet those goals, Beilin said, Israel would recognize its new government. Also on Saturday, MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List) called on the international community to lift the aid boycott on the PA and promote final arrangement negotiations between Israel and the PLO.

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