Netanyahu off to London and Paris to discuss Hamas, Fatah deal
Israeli prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to depart late Tuesday on a three-day visit to Britain and France, to discuss the impending reconciliation between the Palestinian Islamist Hamas movement and the mainstream Fatah party, DPA reported.
The premier is also expected to lobby against a bid by the Palestinian Authority to seek a unilateral statehood declaration at the United Nations.
Netanyahu told his cabinet earlier this week that Fatah-Hamas deal "must concern not only every Israeli, but all those in the world who aspire to see peace between us and our Palestinian neighbours."
"Peace is possible only with those who want to live in peace alongside us and not with those who want to destroy us," he said. "I will deliver this clear message to world capitals, and especially to European leaders, during my visits to London and Paris this week."
Netanyahu is scheduled to meet his British counterpart David Cameron in London on Wednesday, and French President Nicholas Sarkozy in Paris on Thursday.
The visit was originally aimed solely at lobbying against the Palestinian UN statehood bid, but last week's reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah, led to a change of agenda.
The Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal, initialed last Wednesday and expected to be signed in the coming days, ends a bitter, and at times violent feud between the two largest Palestinian parties.
It is intended to bring about the formation of an interim unity government, which will put an end to the current situation whereby Hamas administers the Gaza Strip and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority the West Bank.
Israel denounced the agreement, with officials saying there will be no talks with any government which includes Hamas representatives, unless the Islamist movement accepts Israel's right to exist.