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US official threatens to cut aid if Palestinian national unity government is formed

A senior US administration official said on Thursday that the United States would have to reconsider its aid to the Palestinians if the Fatah-led Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) forms a unity government with Hamas.


"Any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to non-violence, recognition of the state of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations between the parties," the US official told Reuters on condition of anonymity, speaking of concessions that Hamas has long rejected as pre-conditions for talks.

"If a new Palestinian government is formed, we will assess it based on its adherence to the stipulations above, its policies and actions, and will determine any implications for our assistance based on US law," the official said.

Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, and the PLO, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, announced on Wednesday that they have reached a reconciliation agreement, deepening the crisis in the faltering US-mediated peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Israel has since cancelled all immediate plans for talks.

The reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah, which comes after a long series of failed efforts and seven years of infighting, entails the formation of a unity government within five weeks and the holding of a general election six months later.

The US official told Reuters that the Obama administration would be closely "following reports about Palestinian reconciliation efforts".

"We have been clear about the principles that must guide any Palestinian government in order for it to play a constructive role in achieving peace and building an independent Palestinian state," he added.

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