Britain welcomes Palestinian unity deal

2nd May 2011, Comments 0 comments

British Foreign Minister William Hague on Monday welcomed "in principle" a reconciliation deal between rival Palestinian factions that seeks to end a bitter divide between the West Bank and Gaza.

"We welcome in principle the reconciliation and the work that Egypt has done," Hague told reporters during a joint news conference with his Egyptian counterpart Nabil al-Arabi in Cairo.

"There is still work to be done and we will judge everyone by their actions," he said.

The Fatah-Hamas deal announced last week comes after 18 months of failed talks and envisions the formation of an interim government of independents to prepare for presidential and legislative elections within a year.

The deal will be signed on Tuesday by Fatah's Azzam al-Ahmad and Mussa Abu Marzuk, the number two in Hamas's political bureau, who hashed out the details of the agreement with help from Egyptian officials.

Israel has fiercely criticised the unity deal, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even warning Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas that he "must choose between peace with Israel or peace with Hamas."

But Hague said Britain was still committed to working towards a two-state solution with Israel and Palestine living side by side.

"We are strongly committed in the UK to a two-state solution while there is still time for a two-state solution," he said.

US President Barack Obama's administration relaunched direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in September only to see them grind to a halt three weeks later over Israel's settlements construction in the West Bank.

© 2011 AFP

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