French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and PA chairman Mahmoud AbbasReuters

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday told visiting French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius that any new Palestinian unity government should not include Hamas, AFP reports.

The remarks came on the eve of a key meeting of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to discuss forming a new cabinet. The unity government between Hamas and Fatah collapsed last week as Abbas decided to dissolve it amid a deepening rift between the sides.

"(Abbas) told me this government of national unity could only include women and men who recognize Israel, renounce violence and who are in agreement with the principles of the (Mideast) Quartet," Fabius said at a press conference in Jerusalem after holding talks with Abbas in Ramallah.

Noting that those conditions ruled out Hamas, Fabius added, "And that suits us perfectly."

The Palestinian unity agreement signed in April 2014 sought to end seven years of bad blood between Abbas's Fatah movement and Hamas, but the sides have continued to quarrel over many issues.

Abbas's move to dissolve the government came at a critical time, with Hamas sources saying it is holding separate, indirect talks with Israel on ways to firm up an informal ceasefire that last August ended a 50-day war in Gaza.

An Israeli source later confirmed the talks were taking place, but Hamas subsequently denied they were taking place despite its earlier declaration.

It was not immediately clear whether the government's collapse on Wednesday was directly linked to the talks, noted AFP.

Fabius said he had asked Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu about the contacts with Hamas.

"If I understood his response, it means that somehow, I don't know how, there are conversations about Gaza and about improving the humanitarian situation" in the territory, Fabius said.

Sunday's meetings in Ramallah and Jerusalem were part of efforts by Fabius aimed at reviving Israeli-PA peace talks that have been comatose since a major American    push for a final deal ended in failure last year.

France has so far focused with Arab states on a possible resolution that would set negotiating parameters and establish a time period, possibly 18 months, to complete talks.