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Portugal backs unity government

June 5, 2014 5:33 P.M. (Updated: June 5, 2014 5:33 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The government of Portugal on Thursday signaled its support for the newly-formed Palestinian government of national unity, the latest government to do so as Israel struggles to convince other states to oppose the first unified administration in seven years.

"Palestinian reconciliation is an important step towards the two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians," the government said in a statement, highlighting that it supported the continuation of peace negotiations.

Portuguese authorities said in the statement that the country has always backed Palestinian reconciliation on the condition that the government respects the principles of non-violence, previous peace agreements, and acknowledges the existence of Israel.

As a result, the Portuguese government congratulated President Mahmoud Abbas' announcement that the new government is committed to respecting these principles.

The move comes only a day after the Middle East Quartet, the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Spain congratulated the Palestinians on the unity government, which was formed on Monday five weeks after a national reconciliation deal was signed in the Gaza Strip in late April.

The declarations have angered Israel, which shut down peace talks with the Palestinian Authority after the deal was announced because it refuses to negotiate with Hamas, which it considers a terrorist organization.

Other major governments in the region including Iran have previously signaled their support for the unity deal.
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