U.S. AND ISRAEL DISAGREE ON PALESTINIAN CONTACTS
The first fractures surfaced Sunday in the Israeli and American approaches to the new Palestinian unity government, with Israel’s cabinet voting overwhelmingly to boycott it, while the United States Consulate here refused to rule out contacts with some moderate Palestinians who are now serving as ministers.
The American position, while not a change in policy, added to the sense that the new unity government, officially announced Saturday after many weeks of negotiations, had created potential openings with the West, raising the possibility of a resumption of direct international aid and damaging Israeli efforts to maintain a solid boycott.
Britain has also refused to rule out dealing with some members of the new government, France has invited its foreign minister to visit, and Norway said Saturday that it would recognize the new government.
“Cracks are appearing in the walls of isolation and the siege against us,” Ziad Abu Amr, the new Palestinian foreign minister, told Ynet, the Web site of the Israeli daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot, referring to the French and Norwegian statements.
Direct international aid to the Palestinian Authority was suspended more than a year ago when Hamas, the radical Islamic movement that refuses to recognize Israel, won control of the government in elections. The new unity government is still dominated by Hamas, defined as a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel and the European Union. But it also includes figures from the mainstream Fatah faction and several independents.
Two independent members in important posts, Mr. Abu Amr and the new finance minister, Salam Fayyad, have had good relations with the West in the past.