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Israel to suspend talks over Palestinian unity deal

Palestinians in Gaza City celebrated the announcement of the unity deal on Wednesday evening

Source : BBC / 25 Apr 2014

Israel has suspended its peace talks with the Palestinians in response to a unity deal between Hamas and Fatah.

The decision came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chaired a six-hour meeting of Israel's security cabinet.

The Palestinian factions announced the reconciliation deal on Wednesday, saying they would attempt to form a unity government in the coming weeks.

Mr Netanyahu told the BBC the Palestinian leader must abandon the deal if he wanted peace with Israel.

Mahmoud Abbas has "taken a giant leap backwards", the Israeli leader told BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen.

The direct negotiations were already close to collapse after both sides took what the US called "unhelpful steps" earlier this month.

Since then, Washington has been trying to keep the talks going beyond Tuesday, the deadline for a final agreement set when they resumed last July after a three-year hiatus.

'Additional measures'

The two Palestinian factions have been at odds since Hamas, which won parliamentary elections in 2006, ousted forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah in the Gaza Strip during clashes in 2007 and set up a rival government.

In a statement released after Thursday's security cabinet meeting, Mr Netanyahu said his government would "not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by Hamas, a terror organisation that calls for the destruction of Israel".

He said the deal was "a direct continuation of the Palestinian refusal to advance the negotiations".


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