The European Union welcomed Thursday the unity accord between Fatah and Hamas but said the priority remains peace talks with Israel.
“The EU’s top priority is that the current talks continue beyond April 29,” said a spokesman for EU foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton, referring to the deadline for a US-led effort to broker a Palestinian-Israeli peace deal.
“The EU has consistently called for intra-Palestinian reconciliation behind” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, spokesman Michael Mann said in a statement.
Such an understanding was “an important element for the unity of a future Palestinian state and for reaching a two-state solution [with Israel],” Mann added.
The statement came as Israel announced the suspension of peace talks with the Palestinians over the unity deal.
The top-level inner cabinet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government “decided unanimously that it will not negotiate with a Palestinian government that incorporates Hamas, a terrorist organization that seeks the destruction of Israel,” a statement said after an emergency meeting that lasted throughout Thursday afternoon.
Netanyahu said earlier that Wednesday’s agreement meant Abbas was choosing “Hamas, not peace.”
Hamas, which rules Gaza, opposes all peace talks with Israel.
Mann said the EU was following developments closely and looking “into the details of the agreement and its implementation.”
The EU “welcomes the prospect of genuine democratic elections” for president and the legislature envisaged in the accord, he added.