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Senators demand that Kerry condition aid to PA

US Senators Mark Kirk and Marco Rubio of the Republican Party on Thursday called on Secretary of State John Kerry to publically declare that the US will immediately cut off its financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority should a Palestinian consensus government fail to recognise Israel's right to exist or violate any previous agreements signed.

In a letter sent to Kerry on Friday, the Senators said that the Palestinian Authority took a step backward when it decided to cooperate with Hamas, which they call "a terrorist organisation that has a stated goal of wiping Israel from the map".

Meanwhile, Israel's Deputy Defence Minister Danny Danon published a scathing op-ed on Wednesday in Politico newspaper slamming Kerry's recent "apartheid" remarks and suggesting that the secretary of state consistently asks Israel "to negotiate with a loaded gun to our heads".

Danon said: "Time and again, Secretary Kerry's erroneous declarations have come dangerously close to suggesting moral equivalency between Israel and its adversaries. They call into question his administration's ability to act as an honest broker in our region."

In response, Israel's Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer issued a rare statement on behalf of the Israeli government announcing that the article only represents Danon's personal views.

For its part, the Israeli embassy in Washington released a statement saying that: "Israel deeply appreciates Secretary Kerry's efforts to advance peace with the Palestinians."

Kerry told reporters yesterday in Addis Ababa that last week's announcement of a Palestinian reconciliation agreement took the US by surprise, and said it's time for the US to stop and reflect before re-launching the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Reuters news agency quoted Kerry as saying: "We believe the best thing to do right now is pause, take a hard look at these things, and find out what is possible and what is not possible in the days ahead."

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