Palestinian government must meet international demands: Ban

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon Sunday called on the new Palestinian government to meet international demands regarding Israel, and said he shared hopes for a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. Speaking at a news conference after meeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Ban said that while he welcomed the new Palestinian unity government, it had to accept Israel’s right to exist, renounce violence and honour previous peace agreements with the Jewish state.

 

Abbas said the Palestinian leadership would work toward achieving a comprehensive peace and toward ending the Israel-Palestinian conflict by peaceful means.

 

The new government, as unity coalition dominated by the ruling Islamic Hamas movement and Abbas’ secular Fatah party, issued a platform that it speaks only of ‘respecting’ previous agreements, asserts the right to ‘resistance against the occupation’, and makes no mention of recognizing Israel.

 

Abbas said he hoped the international community would accept the platform of the new cabinet and would end a diplomatic and economic embargo imposed on the Palestinian government after Hamas, which wants Israel replaced with an Islamic state, won power in elections last year and refused to accept the three demands.

 

He said he and Ban had discussed ways of improving the life of inhabitants of Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank and had also talked about the barrier Israel is building along the West Bank and the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

 

Ban said he would raise these issues in talks he was to have with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

 

Ban, in his first trip to Israel and the Palestinian areas since assuming his post, earlier toured a refugee camp near Bethlehem and also observed the separation barrier Israel is building.

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