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      Clinton Won't Rule Out Dealing with Hamas-Fatah PA

      Secretary of State gives fuzzy answer when asked if Hamas-Fatah pact closes door on "peace."
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 5/5/2011, 5:45 PM / Last Update: 5/5/2011, 6:02 PM

       U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton refused on Thursday to rule out further talks with the Palestinian Authority even after the pact signed a day earlier between Fatah and Hamas, the New York Times reported.. 

      Speaking in Rome, Clinton was asked if the deal closed the door on negotiations between Israel and the PA for the foreseeable future. She evaded a direct answer, and said that there were “many steps that have yet to be undertaken in order to implement the agreement” between Hamas and Fatah. 
       
      Clinton added that “we are going to be carefully assessing what this actually means because there are a number of different potential meanings to it, both on paper and in practice.”
       
      At a joint news conference with Clinton in Rome, Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini said Hamas must abide by the conditions of the "Quartet" of Middle East mediators in order to be considered “a possible interlocutor.” These are:
      • Recognition of Israel
      • Renunciation of terrorism and violence, and
      • Acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Roadmap
      On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called the unity pact a “tremendous blow to peace and a great victory for terrorism.” Netanyahu was in London to meet British Prime Minister David Cameron.
       
      From Britain, Netanyahu headed to Paris, where he was to meet President Nicolas Sarkozy Thursday. In an interview with the weekly L’Express magazine, Sarkozy urged Netanyahu to “take the risk of peace.”
       
      “In all my political life I have been a friend of Israel,” Sarkozy said. “But there will be no security for Israel without a viable, democratic and modern Palestinian state.”
       
      Several members of Congress have asked the Obama administration to suspend U.S. aid to the PA. The U.S. has spent $542 million since 2005 to train the PA’s National Security Force, including $150 million in the current fiscal year, according to the NYT report. Administration officials have said the aid will continue as long as Fatah-PA head Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad remain in charge of the PA in its present configuration.
       
      Concerned moderate Israelis have long warned that the U.S.-trained and armed PA forces will eventually turn their guns on Israel.