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Olmert: Israel wants united P.A.

Ehud Olmert said Israel does not want the Palestinian Authority to devolve into separate states in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“The solution remains two peoples, two states – a Palestinian state and a Jewish state,” the Israeli prime minister told Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper in an interview published Tuesday.

Hamas’ violent takeover of Gaza last month and ensuing split with the more moderate Fatah faction, which holds sway in the West Bank, has stirred speculation that the Palestinian polity has been riven for good. But Olmert described this as unfeasible.

“We are not stupid. We don’t want to separate Gaza from the West Bank,” he said. “We know that a million-and-a half Palestinians live in the Strip. How can they be separated from the others?”

Olmert made clear that Israel will have no diplomatic dealings with Hamas and expects P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas, the Fatah leader, to shun the radical Islamist group as well.

“Hamas is a destructive force, an extreme fundamentalist organization, which concentrates on how to continue the struggle against Israel and is ready, as the world and Abbas saw, to kill Palestinians, too,” the prime minister said.

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