France would back the future Palestinian unity government, President Jacques Chirac announced.Following a meeting Saturday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at Chirac’s official residence, Chirac reconfirmed his support of the Feb. 8 Mecca agreement and said it represents the first step toward fulfillment of the preconditions for international backing. French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy repeated French willingness to cooperate with the new unity government and expressed his hope that it would open the way to all Palestinian organizations, Hamas included, recognizing Israel. In the Mecca deal, Hamas agreed to “respect” past peace agreements with Israel, meeting none of the preconditions: accepting past peace agreements, recognizing Israel’s right to exist and renouncing terrorism. At the meeting, Abbas promised to continue efforts to free Cpl. Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was kidnapped by Palestinian gunmen in June. Shalit holds dual Israeli-French citizenship.
France backs new P.A. government