Netanyahu, in meeting with Blair, urges Abbas to nix unity pact


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Mahmoud Abbas to abandon a unity agreement with Hamas during a meeting with Quartet envoy Tony Blair.

The Palestinian Authority president’s Fatah party and Hamas, along with several other Palestinian factions, inked the reconciliation agreement Tuesday in Cairo. A formal signing of the Egypt-brokered unity agreement is scheduled for Wednesday.

"I call on Abu Mazen to annul the agreement with Hamas immediately and choose the path of peace with Israel," Netanyahu told Blair during their meeting Sunday to discuss the stalled peace process and other diplomatic issues including the elimination of Osama bin Laden, according to a statement issued from the Prime Minister’s Office.

"The agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas is a hard blow to the peace process," Netanyahu said. "How is it possible to achieve peace with a government, half of which calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and even praises the arch-murderer Osama bin Laden?" 

Netanyahu is expected to make similar remarks during meetings this week in London and Paris with British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the statement said.

Under the agreement, Fatah and Hamas will form a transitional government with presidential and legislative elections in a year. Abbas said he will not be a candidate for president.

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