Middle East

In Answer To Palestinian Unity, Israelis Step Away From Peace Talks

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The Israeli government suspended peace talks with Palestinians, citing a unity agreement announced Wednesday by Palestinian leadership. The Israeli security cabinet came to the decision unanimously, angered by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's decision to end a seven-year schism with the Hamas movement.


Elsewhere in the Middle East, Israel has broken off peace talks with the Palestinian Authority. Israeli leaders say they're doing that because the Palestinian Authority is forming a joint government with the militant group Hamas.


For years, Hamas has run the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Authority holds power in the West Bank. Israel says it cannot negotiation with any leadership allied with a violently anti-Israel faction. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this today about Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas:

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: I hope he changes his mind. And until he does so, I think it's very important that we have clarity. As long as I'm prime minister of Israel, I will never negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by terrorist organizations committed to our destruction.

CORNISH: Those comments from MSNBC. Palestinians say the deal with Hamas is only just taking shape. The Palestinian leadership says that it is still President Abbas, not Hamas, who would negotiate with Israel. In a statement, they accuse Israel of trying to sabotage peace talks all along. The U.S. State Department says it will keep trying to get the two sides back to the table.

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