Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told a senior US envoy on Saturday that Washington and the international community would have to accept the new coalition between his Fatah movement and the Islamic militant Hamas, sounding a note of defiance ahead of a three-way meeting Monday between Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Abbas aide Nabil Abu Rdeneh quoted the Palestinian leader as telling State Department official David Welch at talks in Ramallah that he had had no choice but to sign a power-sharing deal with Hamas last week during a meeting in Mecca, in hopes that it would end months of deadly factional fighting, even though the new government's program falls short of US demands for explicit recognition of Israel and renunciation of violence.
"President Abbas told David Welch that the Mecca agreement was the only possible agreement and the world must deal with it," Abu Rdeneh said.
A Palestinian official present at Saturday's meeting quoted Welch as saying that the US would reserve judgment until the new government is officially formed and its policies are clear.
Based on the agreement with Abbas, the Hamas government resigned earlier this week and its prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, now has five weeks to form the new coalition.