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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. and Israel Shun Unity Government

JERUSALEM -- The United States and Israel agreed ahead of a three-way meeting with the Palestinians to shun any new Palestinian government that does not renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept existing peace agreements, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday.

The so-called Quartet of Middle East negotiators -- the United States, European Union, the United Nations and Russia -- has set these demands as a condition for lifting crippling international sanctions.

The new Palestinian power-sharing platform, reached in Saudi Arabia earlier this month, speaks only of "respect" for existing peace deals.

Moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Olmert are to meet separately Sunday with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ahead of their three-way meeting Monday. In a further indication of tensions before the meeting, Rice and Abbas canceled a news conference that had been scheduled to follow their one-on-one talks, Abbas' office said.

Before meeting with Abbas, Rice told reporters the two would discuss the power-sharing agreement, as well as prospects for peace.

The purpose of the meeting Monday would be to "examine the current situation and to commit -- recommit -- to existing agreements but also to begin to explore and probe the political and diplomatic horizon," she said.

The summit Monday was initially billed as an attempt to revive long-stalled peace talks. But friction over the power-sharing deal has eclipsed that.

Olmert said at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting that he and U.S. President George W. Bush had spoken by telephone Friday about the deal and agreed that the Palestinians had to go further. "A Palestinian government that won't accept the Quartet conditions won't receive recognition and cooperation," Olmert said. "The American and Israeli positions are totally identical on this issue."

Neither Washington nor Israel has said, however, that they would boycott Abbas, who, as head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, would represent the Palestinians in any peace talks. Peace negotiations broke down more than six years ago in an explosion of violence between the two sides.

Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, who has been charged with putting together the next government, said the Palestinians must hold firm against international criticism.

"We stand by President [Abbas] in defending this agreement and facing outside pressure, whether from the U.S. administration or others," Haniyeh told reporters outside his office in Gaza City.

Israel and the Palestinians are likely to agree to restart peace talks when their leaders meet Monday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday, Reuters reported.

Rice planned to bring Abbas and Olmert together for a three-way summit Monday.