Foreign Minister: Israel 'Will Not Accept a Palestinian Government that Includes Hamas'

Foreign Minister: Israel 'Will Not Accept a Palestinian Government that Includes Hamas'

Israel’s foreign minister told the UN Security Council on Thursday that a new Palestinian unity government including Hamas was a setback to peace attempts, diplomats said.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman briefed the 15 Security Council ambassadors on the Middle East peace talks and the growing confrontation with Iran in a meeting at a New York hotel.

Lieberman said an accord signed this week by the heads of Fatah and Hamas “does not contribute to the advancement of peace negotiations or the well being of the Palestinian people,” Israel’s UN mission said in a statement.

The accord “reflects the personal interests” of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, the head of Fatah, and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, the Israeli minister added.

“Israel will not accept a Palestinian government that includes Hamas, unless it changes its current policies, recognizes Israel?s right to exist and accepts all Quartet conditions,” Lieberman added.

Talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been frozen since September 2010. The Palestinians have demanded that Israel halt settlement construction in the Palestinian territories. Israel rejects any conditions for talks to settle the Middle East conflict.

Lieberman, who is on a US tour which included meetings in Washington with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also demanded that the Security Council act on Iran, the statement said.

“Israel keeps all options on the table” if international sanctions do not convince Iran to halt its nuclear drive, Lieberman said. Western countries say Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb and many experts say Israel is planning for a military strike. Iran denies it is seeking a weapon.

Lieberman called on the Security Council