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Haniyeh calls on PLO to withdraw Israel recognition

April 29, 2011 7:58 P.M. (Updated: April 30, 2011 9:04 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Friday called on the Palestinian Liberation Organization to withdraw its recognition of Israel.

On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the announcement of a reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah by saying the Palestinian Authority must "choose between peace with Israel or peace with Hamas."

Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said Netanyahu "must choose between peace and settlements."

Speaking after the Friday prayer in Gaza City, Haniyeh said that the PLO should not only demand that Israel chose between settlements and peace, but should also withdraw its recognition of the state.

In a surprise unity deal announced Wednesday, Hamas and Fatah agreed to form a transitional government ahead of elections to take place within the next year.

President Mahmoud Abbas said the interim government would not dictate policy when it came to negotiations with Israel, which would remain the mandate of the Palestine Liberation Organization that he heads.

On Thursday, Netanyahu met with government ministers who decided to reject negotiations with a united Palestinian government, Israeli media reported.

The Palestinian unity deal crossed "a red line," Israel's settler Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Thursday, warning that an array of measures could be taken against the Palestinian Authority.

Haniyeh said the unity deal would meet Palestinian peoples' aspirations, and reflected the will of the people. He said obstacles to unity placed by Israeli "would be overcome."

The reconciliation deal followed youth protests across the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip demanding an end to the national division. Since March 15, protesters demanding Palestinian unity have taken to the streets, camped out in public squares, and held hunger strikes.

Tensions between Fatah and Hamas date back to the start of limited Palestinian self-rule in the early 1990s. They worsened dramatically in 2007 when Hamas forces ousted Fatah from the Gaza Strip after a week of deadly clashes, cleaving the Palestinian territories into hostile rival camps.

The disunity of the Palestinians has prevented them from taking a common stance in peace talks with Israel, which are now off the table.

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