Israeli foreign ministry sees light in unity deal

AFP , Wednesday 4 May 2011

A leaked document from the Israeli foreign minister says Palestinian reconciliation may be a positive turn, at odds with the government's official view

Israel's foreign ministry believes a unity deal between rival Palestinian factions presents a positive opportunity for the Israel, Haaretz, an Israeli news source reported on Wednesday.

The position, reportedly outlined in a confidential document obtained by the newspaper, put the ministry's diplomats sharply at odds with the Israeli government, which has fiercely condemned the deal between Fatah and Hamas.

The policy paper reported says the unity agreement between the Palestinian rivals could present Israel with a "strategic opportunity to create genuine change in the Palestinian context."

The position contradicts the view of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government, including hardline Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who told Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah movement to choose between peace with Israel or unity with Hamas. Foreign ministry officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Israel has said it can hold no dialogue with Hamas, which does not recognise the Jewish state and has not renounced violence.

But the Haaretz report suggests that instead of rejecting the deal Israel should "adopt a constructive approach that would sharpen the dilemma on the Palestinian side."

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