Israel again rejects Palestinian unity government

Israel says it will not deal with the Palestinian unity government, whose prime minister says he backs resistance "in all its means" against Israel.

As Palestinian politicians convened on Saturday to endorse a new unity cabinet, Israel reiterated that it would not deal with the coalition formed byFatah andHamas.

Israel's vice-premier, Shimon Peres, said the international community should stand firm in isolating the Palestinian government.

"If this is a government that does not renounce terror, if this is a government that does not want to conduct peace talks, why should it be helped?" he asked onIsrael Radio.

The Palestinian government's program, finalized late Friday, contained some softer language than a draft published earlier in the week, though is still falls short of international demands for acceptance, including explicit recognition of Israel and renunciation of violence.

The so-called Quartet of world powers — the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States — has for the past year been calling on the new government to renounce violence and recognize Israel and past peace deals in order for the flow of aid to resume.

Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas presented his government's platform at a parliamentary session held viavideo link set up in Gaza City and Ramallah. Palestinian leaders cannot meet in one place because of Israeli travel bans.

Haniyeh said the coalition's main goal will be to set up a Palestinian state in lands Israel occupied in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Upholding right to resistance

Haniyeh also said his government"affirms that resistance in all its means, including the popular resistance against occupation" is a Palestinian right. Popular resistance is jargon for demonstrations and other non-violent protests against Israel.

Taking a different approach, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he extends his "hand again for peace and equality" in a speech preceding the parliament's vote on theunity government.

He said he rejects "all sorts of violence and we look for an agreement, a solution that is based on negotiations."

After the speeches, the unity government won a confidence vote in parliament.

After the 83-3 vote was announced, politiciansjumped up for a standing ovation. In all, the Palestinian parliament has 132 members, but 41 are in Israeli detention.