Sunday, February 18, 2007

Mecca agreement doesn't meet Quartet conditions

From Feb. 17, 2007 By ASSOCIATED PRESS [emphasis added]...

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, arriving for a Mideast summit, said Saturday that it's an "important time" to discuss the idea of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, despite what she described as complications created by the emerging Palestinian government.

However, Rice and Foreign Minister Tzip Livni reiterated the need for any Palestinian government to meet the three conditions for international acceptance - recognizing Israel, renouncing violence and accepting interim peace deals with Israel.

Livni said last week's power-sharing ["Mecca"] agreement between moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Islamic militant group Hamas does "not meet the requirements" of the Quartet of Mideast peacemakers - the US, the EU, the UN and Russia.

"I think that also the moderates on the Palestinian side need to understand that the path toward a Palestinian state goes through the renunciation of violence and terrorism and not by compromising with terror," Livni said in an apparent reference to Abbas.

The platform of an emerging Hamas-Fatah coalition only contains a promise to "respect" previous peace agreements, at best implying recognition of Israel.

Rice reiterated that she would not judge the new Palestinian government until it has been established, but acknowledged that the coalition talks are overshadowing Monday's summit. Abbas aides have said they were warned by US officials that a government with the platform as is would be shunned by Washington.

"We are between the announcement of the intention to form a government and the actual formation of that government," Rice said, noting that the Quartet has reaffirmed its principles.

"I have said if there was a perfect time to come to the Middle East, you wouldn't get on an air plane, and so despite the complications it's an important time to have these discussions ... about the principles of two states for two peoples," she said.

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