Palestinian President Says Planned Unity Government Will Recognize Israel

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the U.N. General Assembly Thursday that the planned national unity government will recognize Israel.

The Hamas-led Palestinian government that won elections in January has refused to recognize Israel, end violence, and honor past agreements between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, which Abbas heads.

Abbas told the assembly's annual ministerial meeting that he has recently sought to establish a government of national unity "that is consistent with international and Arab legitimacy and that responds to the demands of the key parties promoting Mideast peace — recognition, ending violence and honoring past agreements.

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"I would like to reaffirm that any future Palestinian government will commit to all the agreements that the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian National Authority have committed to," he said.

These include the letters of mutual recognition exchanged on Sept. 9, 1993, by the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian chairman Yasser Arafat, whom Abbas called "the two great late leaders."

"These letters contain mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO, renunciation of violence, and commitment to negotiations as the path towards reaching a permanent solution that will lead to the establishment of the independent state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel," Abbas said.

Hamas' refusal to recognize Israel has led to international sanctions that have devastated the Palestinian economy. Israel and Western donors cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to the Palestinians.

Facing intense pressure as it has been unable to pay tens of thousands of civil servants because of the sanctions, Hamas agreed last week to form a coalition with Abbas' moderate Fatah party in hopes of lifting the boycott imposed by Western countries.

The coalition talks have stalled in recent days as the U.S. seeks assurances that the Islamic militant group will renounce violence and recognize the Jewish state.