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Olmert Says Israel, U.S. Could Shun Palestinian Unity Government

Olmert says Palestinian unity government must make concessions (file photo) (epa) February 18, 2007 -- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert today said he and U.S. President George W. Bush agreed in a phone conversation to shun a Palestinian unity government unless it accepted international demands on policy toward Israel.

Olmert said that a Palestinian cabinet that does not accept calls by the Mideast peace Quartet's mediators for a unity government to recognize Israel, renounce violence, and abide by existing interim peace accords "cannot receive recognition and there will not be cooperation with it."

"I spoke about this on Friday [February 16] with the president of the United States, and I can tell you the Israeli and U.S. positions are completely identical," Olmert said. "There is a full agreement and an understanding with regards to the status of a Palestinian government if it turns out that it does not accept the Quartet's conditions as a basis for further activity in the future."

Olmert's remarks, at the start of the weekly Israeli cabinet meeting, came before talks later in the day with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Rice was also scheduled to meet separately today with Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas.

(Reuters, AP)