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Palestinian unity deal welcomed

The Swiss government says it has taken a “positive note” of Wednesday’s announcement on the signing of an inter-Palestinian reconciliation agreement.

In a statement on Thursday the foreign ministry said it also welcomed Egypt’s key role in brokering the deal.

The comments came a day after Hamas and Fatah reached an initial deal in Cairo to end a four-year dispute that has left the Palestinians with rival governments: a Fatah-dominated administration in the West Bank and the Hamas regime that controls the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians claim both territories for a future independent state.

“Switzerland supports Palestinian reconciliation, which is an essential prerequisite for the achievement of the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to self-determination,” the foreign ministry said.

“This agreement meets the expectations expressed by the Palestinian people and should advance democracy and the respect of human rights across the Palestinian territories. It should also strengthen efforts to build the necessary institutions for any future independent Palestinian state.”

The ministry said priority should now be given to achieving a permanent ceasefire, lifting the blockade in Gaza and reaching an agreement on the release of the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit.

Israeli leaders rejected the deal, saying it could destroy prospects for peace and ruling out negotiations with any Palestinian government that includes Hamas, considered a terror organisation by Israel, the United States and the European Union.

Switzerland supports a negotiated two-state solution according to the model developed in the Geneva Accord by members of Israeli and Palestinian civil society. and agencies


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