Israel circumspect on Fayyad meetings

Israel
played down the significance of Western officials’ talks with a non-Hamas member of the
new Palestinian Authority unity government. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni
said Thursday that while Israel is firm on shunning the entire Hamas-led Cabinet
until it accepts Israel’s right to exist and renounces
terrorism, it has had to accept foreign efforts to cultivate P.A. Finance
Minister Salam Fayyad, a political independent. “This
distinction is unacceptable to Israel, but we can live with a situation in which
Israel’s position is tougher than the international community in making a
distinction between Hamas ministers and Fatah ministers,” Livni told Israel
Radio. “For us, the government is one.” Diplomats from the United States,
European Union and United Nations met Fayyad this week in Jerusalem. The fourth
member of the Quartet of foreign peace mediators, Russia, long has been willing to include Hamas, a terrorist group, in talks.

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