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AJC Praises Quartet for Policy on Palestinian Government; Dismayed by Norway's Embrace of Hamas

Contact: Kenneth Bandler, Director of Public Relations and Communications, 212-891-6771,; Michael Geller, Assistant Director of Public Relations, 212-891-1385,; both for the American Jewish Committee


New York, Mar. 20 /Standard Newswire/ -- The American Jewish Committee praised the Quartet – the United Nations, European Union, Russia and the United States – for standing firm in refusing to recognize the new Palestinian government until it fulfills explicit international conditions.


"To his credit, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon could not have been clearer when he urged the Palestinian government to 'adhere to and respect principles laid out by the Quartet,'" said AJC Executive Director David A. Harris.


Following the Palestinian legislative elections in January 2006, the Quartet set three conditions that must be met before the Palestinian government would be granted recognition and funds would be released. Those conditions are recognition of Israel, forswearing violence and accepting existing Israeli-Palestinian agreements. While President Mahmoud Abbas has pressed Hamas to publicly and unequivocally accept those conditions, Hamas, which calls for the destruction of Israel, remains adamant in its refusal.


"We are gratified that the Quartet members remain united in seeing through the charade of the Palestinian unity government, where Hamas, the majority partner, remains the principal obstacle to advancing peace," said Harris. "Progress in advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace depends above all on Hamas meeting the basic conditions set by the Quartet more than a year ago."


At the same time, AJC expressed deep disappointment with Norway for recognizing the new Palestinian government and sending a senior official to Gaza to meet with the Hamas prime minister. "Impatience by Western nations is not going to serve the long-term interests of Palestinians and peace," Harris said.


"We who support a negotiated two-state solution are dismayed by Norway's unfortunate decision," said Harris.


"For inexplicable reasons, Oslo lunged ahead of the pack to embrace the new Palestinian government by dispatching its deputy foreign minister to Gaza to meet with the Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniya," said Harris. "In doing so, Norwary undermines the very cause it purports to serve – the quest for peace – by strengthening the hand of the forces of extremism at the expense of the pragmatists."