Giving the new Palestinian unity government a cautious welcome. World powers gathered in Washington have agreed the aid embargo against the Palestinians would stay, reiterating demands the Authority meet conditions needed for the ban to be scrapped. The new Palestinian government – which was sworn in last weekend – brings together Islamic Hamas and president Mahmoud Abbas’ more moderate Fatah party.
The Quartet – made up of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia – has set three conditions for the embargo to be lifted: the government must recognise the state of Israel, renounce violence and agree to Israeli-Palestinian accords. While EU officials were optimistic the conditions would ultimately be met, Washington was more cautious, expressing concern over what prime minister Ismail Haniyeh called the Palestinian people’s “right to resistance”.
The year-old diplomatic boycott of the Palestinian government eased on Monday when Norway, which is not a European Union member, restored full relations with the Palestinian Authority. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be visiting the Palestinian territories and Israel in the coming days.