JERUSALEM,(Reuters) – Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres said on Wednesday a Palestinian unity government would be a facade aimed at easing Western economic sanctions rather than a new framework for seeking peace with Israel. “Hamas doesn’t want peace, even if we give them 1967 borders,” Peres told Israel Radio, referring to the governing Islamist group and the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, territory Israel captured in a war that year.
Peres said Hamas, which advocates Israel’s destruction, would effectively be at the helm of a unity government of non-political technocrats it has been trying to form with moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction. “Hamas wants to use Fatah as a cover, a facade, so they can get money,” Peres said.
Abbas has said talks on a unity government that Palestinians hope could lead to restoration of direct Western aid to the Palestinian Authority had reached a dead end, but he has not announced he has abandoned coalition efforts.
The United States and Europe, seizing an opportunity provided by a Nov. 16 ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, have sought to press Israel and the Palestinians to resume long-stalled peace talks.
In a policy speech last week, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert voiced a readiness to embark on peacemaking, but said Palestinians must first form a government meeting Western demands to recognise Israel, denounce violence and accept existing interim peace accords.