UK & World News

  • 24 April 2014, 0:05

Palestinian Unity Deal 'Threat To Peace Talks'

Two rival Palestinian factions have agreed to form a unity government after signing a deal the United States warned could "seriously complicate" peace talks with Israel.

The agreement between Hamas and Fatah is the latest in a long line of failed attempts to end the groups' seven-year split.

Leaders on both sides will attempt to form an interim government within five weeks, with presidential and parliamentary elections set to be held as early as the end of November.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of choosing Hamas over peace.

"Does he want peace with Hamas or peace with Israel?" he said.

"You can have one but not the other. I hope he chooses peace but so far he hasn't done so."

Mr Netanyahu cancelled US-brokered talks with Palestinian officials that had been scheduled to take place in Jerusalem on Wednesday night.

Jen Psaki, a spokesman for the US State Department, said: "The timing (of the announcement) was troubling and we are certainly disappointed.

"This could seriously complicate our efforts. It's hard to see how Israel can be expected to negotiate with a government that does not believe in its right to exist."

The United States and Israel, as well as the European Union, view Hamas as a terrorist organisation, although a number of other countries do not.

Hamas seized Gaza from Mr Abbas' forces in 2007, leaving him with only parts of the West Bank.

Both sides have become entrenched in their territories, setting up their own governments and security forces.

The division is a major obstacle to Mr Abbas' goal of an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, with east Jerusalem serving as the capital.

Israel captured all three areas in 1967.

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