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Carter urges support for Palestinian unity deal

04 may 2011, 17:46
Former US president Jimmy Carter on Wednesday urged the international community to support a new Palestinian unity deal, saying it would improve the chances for Middle East peace, AFP reports.

Western-backed Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah party and its rivals in the Islamist Hamas penned the deal on Tuesday to end years of infighting, but Israel has called the agreement a blow to the peace process.

Carter, writing in an op-ed for the Washington Post, urged the United States and the international community to look past Hamas's pledge to destroy Israel and argued for the potential benefits of a unified Palestinian democracy.

"If the United States and the international community support this effort, they can help Palestinian democracy and establish the basis for a unified Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza that can make a secure peace with Israel," Carter wrote.

"If they remain aloof or undermine the agreement, the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory may deteriorate with a new round of violence against Israel."

Israel has ruled out dealing with any Palestinian entity that includes Hamas, which is also blacklisted as a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union because of its commitment to armed struggle.

But Carter insisted that Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, with whom he has met on a number of occasions, told him that Hamas would accept a two-state agreement provided it was approved in a Palestinian referendum.

"Such an agreement could provide mutual recognition -- Israel would recognize an independent Palestinian state and Palestine would recognize Israel," Carter wrote.

"In other words, an agreement will include Hamas's recognition of Israel."

Representatives of Fatah, Hamas and 11 other Palestinian factions, as well as independent political figures, inked the reconciliation deal on Tuesday following talks with Egyptian officials.

It provides for the formation of an interim government of independents to lay the groundwork for presidential and parliamentary elections within a year.

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