If any future unity government in the Palestinian Authority refuses to recognize Israel, the international community will boycott it, British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said Wednesday. "We've said from the beginning that any [PA] government has to abide by the Quartet demands to recognize Israel," Beckett told Army Radio. "If Hamas won't change its position, we won't be able to change ours regarding them," Beckett declared. Beckett was set to meet later Wednesday with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. On Tuesday, Beckett said that for the first time in a "very long time," the moderate Arab countries, Palestinians and Israelis all believe "it is necessary and in their interests" to move forward with a diplomatic process.
Beckett: Consensus on need for peace
Beckett said, "It would be a gross dereliction on the part of all the international community not to take advantage of such an opportunity."
Olmert, meanwhile, told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations that he will meet in Jerusalem on February 19 with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. This meeting is the outgrowth of Rice's visit here last month and her promise to push the diplomatic process forward.
Foreign Secretary Tzipi Livni also talked on Tuesday of a moment of opportunity. "It is clear right now that we are on the same side - Israel, the moderates in the Palestinian Authority, the moderate Arab state leaders - and it is important that we use this opportunity to find out what is the best way to use this understanding," she said.
Explaining her idea to explore a "political horizon" with the Palestinians, an idea that was enshrined in Friday's statement from the Quartet, Livni said there was a need to distinguish between Palestinian moderates and extremists.
She said that while the international community needed to continue with its pressure on the extremists, at the same time a process should be created with the moderate camp "to determine what it is possible to achieve, so that Israel can put on the table its needs that are connected to furthering progress."