WORLD

No Palestinian unity at Israel's expense, Israel PM says

NO PALESTINIAN UNITY AT ISRAELS EXPENSE, ISRAEL PM SAYS

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dismissed Palestinian unity talks on Tuesday, saying he will not accept any deal unless it meets certain conditions for Israel.

He said he could not accept a deal that came "at the expense of our existence", at a meeting of his Likud party in Maale Adumim, one of the biggest Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, where he also backed a law that would annex 19 settlements.

"For whoever wants reconciliation, our explanation to them is very simple: recognize the state of Israel, dismantle Hamas's military wing and cut ties with Iran," he said.

The Israeli government had previously kept quiet about the latest attempts at reconciliation, announced by Hamas two weeks ago, despite showing strong opposition to any deal in the past.

The hardline right-wing Education Minister Naftali Bennet had voiced his disapproval earlier Tuesday, demanding Israel stop transferring tax payments to the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah held his weekly cabinet meeting in Gaza on Tuesday in a major sign of progress towards the Egypt-led reconciliation despite remaining complications, including whether Hamas will allow its armed wing to be absorbed into the PA security forces.

The West Bank and the Gaza Strip have been politically divided since 2007, when Hamas wrested control of Gaza from Fatah, ending a short-lived unity government established after Hamas swept 2006 legislative polls that were ultimately rejected by Fatah, Israel and the international community.

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