Israel condemns Iran-PA meeting

Israel Materials 20 July 2009 17:23 (UTC +04:00)

Israel has accused a senior Palestinian official of meeting "the extreme enemies of peace" after he held talks with Iran's foreign minister, reported BBC.

The Palestinian Authority's top negotiator Saeb Erekat said he had met Manouchehr Mottaki last week.

He rejected reports that these were the first such talks, saying the two had been meeting since 2006.

Iran backs the PA's rival, Hamas, and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for Israel's destruction.

Mr Erekat said he and Mr Mottaki spoke for about half an hour at the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, last week.

"I told him that Iran should continue supporting the Palestinian people... and they should work towards our unity and he agreed," he said.

Israeli prime ministerial spokesman Mark Regev, said:

"Unfortunately, the Palestinian side has placed all sorts of preconditions on the resumption of peace talks. It appears though that they have no qualms about talking to the most violent and extreme enemies of peace."

The PA has been negotiating with Israel for years on a two-state solution, but is currently refusing talks unless Israel freezes all settlement activity - a condition of a 2003 agreement.

Israel accuses Iran of sending weapons to Hamas in Gaza and training its militants.

In March, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said Iran should "stop interfering" in Palestinian affairs, after its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei urged "resistance" against Israel.

"They are interfering only to deepen the rift between Palestinians," he said.

Street fighting erupted between Hamas and Mr Abbas's Fatah faction in Gaza in June 2007, during which Hamas forces seized control of the coastal strip.

Egyptian-brokered unity talks between the two factions have so far failed to bear fruit.