Israel decides to suspend peace talks with Palestinians - Israeli media

by Reuters
Thursday, 24 April 2014 14:43 GMT

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JERUSALEM, April 24 (Reuters) - Israel's security cabinet decided on Thursday to suspend peace talks with the Palestinians in response to President Mahmoud Abbas's unity deal with the Islamist Hamas group, Israeli media reported.

Asked about the reports, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to comment.

The reports, following a six-hour meeting of the security forum, also said that Israel would impose economic sanctions on the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Hamas, listed by the United States as a terrorist organisation, announced the unity pact with Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on Wednesday. Hamas seized the Gaza Strip from forces loyal to the Western-backed Abbas in 2007.

The deal envisions a unity government within five weeks and national elections six months later.

In its initial response to the Hamas-PLO pact, Israel cancelled a meeting on Wednesday with Palestinian peace negotiators that was to have sought ways to extend the U.S.-sponsored talks beyond an original April 29 deadline for a deal.

After the unity agreement, which followed years of unsuccessful reconciliation attempts, Israeli leaders said Abbas could not be Israel's peace partner if he forged a partnership with Hamas.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Heller, Editing by Ari Rabinovitch)

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