US ‘disappointed’ by Palestinian reconciliation deal

Washington:The US said Wednesday that it is “disappointed” by the reconciliation agreement between two main Palestinian factions, which could “seriously” complicate peace efforts.

Under the Palestinian agreement that would end a seven-year internal rift, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party and the Hamas movement would start discussions to form a unity government within five weeks, Xinhua reported.

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The timing of the deal was “troubling” and the US is “disappointed” in the announcement, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told a press conference.

“This could seriously complicate our efforts — not just our efforts, but the efforts between the parties, more importantly, to extend the negotiations,” Psaki said.

US-brokered peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians are approaching the April 29 deadline without a resolution in sight.

Israeli negotiators have informed their Palestinian counterparts that they have called off a planned meeting scheduled for Wednesday night in protest of the Palestinian deal.

On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Abbas needs to choose whether he wants peace with Israel or Hamas movement which Israel classifies as a terrorist group. Abbas responded that the reconciliation agreement does not at all contradict with the peace talks with Israel.

Stressing the longtime US principles on the issue of reconciliation, Psaki said any Palestinian government must ” unambiguously and explicitly” commit to nonviolence, recognise the state of Israel, and accept previous agreements between the parties.

The Palestinian rift started when Hamas took over Gaza in June 2007 after routing the forces loyal to Abbas who now rules the West Bank. Since then, Hamas and Fatah movements have reached several deals to form a unity government which prepares for holding new elections.

However, none of those deals were implemented as Hamas insisted that elections cannot be held before controversial issues were resolved.