AP: Israel rules out peace talks with Palestinians
Posted by uscsjp on March 19, 2007
JERUSALEM (March 18) – Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday that peace talks with the Palestinian coalition government would be impossible as long as it refuses to renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist…
The Israeli Cabinet endorsed Olmert’s hard line, urging the West to maintain harsh economic sanctions imposed with last year’s election of the militant Islamic Hamas. Palestinians had hoped the new alliance between the moderate Fatah and Hamas would lead Israel and Western countries to lift the sanctions, urging the international community to give their new government a chance.
“We can’t have contact with members of a government that justifies resistance, or in other words, terror ,” Olmert said, according to meeting participants. [emphasis added] …
The new Palestinian platform appears to soften Hamas’ militant stance. Though it refers to resistance “in all forms” to Israeli occupation, it also calls for consolidating and expanding a truce with Israel…
The creation of the new Palestinian coalition came ahead of a March 28 Arab summit, where Mideast leaders are hoping to build momentum for a resumption of the peace process with Israel.
In addition to their struggle for international legitimacy, the Palestinians could also crumble over ideological differences and lingering enmity between Fatah and Hamas.
Abbas on Sunday named a Gaza strongman known for leading a crackdown on Hamas militants a decade ago as his national security adviser, presidential aides said.
The appointment puts Mohammed Dahlan, a top official in Abbas’ Fatah, in a sensitive position as Palestinian leaders try to reform their myriad and competing security services. Hamas still has rocky relations with Dahlan. (full story)