News Brief

Israel signalled willingness to engage fully with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s new Fatah-led government.

“A government that is not a Hamas government is a partner,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Saturday, referring to Abbas’s decision to dissolve the governing Palestinian Authority coalition after Hamas’s seizure of the Gaza Strip. “This opens opportunities.”

Abbas was scheduled to swear in a new emergency administration under his Fatah faction Sunday, a move that would be welcomed in the West but rejected by Islamist Hamas.

Israel and foreign mediators have hinted that, with Hamas formally out of power, a Western aid embargo on the Palestinian Authority could end.

Olmert departed Saturday for the the United States, where he will hold talks with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and President Bush focussing on the Palestinian crisis and efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

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