The European Union urged Israel and Palestine to continue with their peace talks beyond the April deadline, when reaching a peace agreement was due.
The plea comes after Israel suspended peace talks with Palestine on Thursday after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s announced an unexpected unity pact with rival Islamist group Hamas, which Israel considers a terrorist group.
“While reconciliation is an important step towards a two-state solution, the top priority remains the continuation of the peace talks,” EU spokesperson Michael Mann said.
Palestine’s Fatah and Hamas agreed on Wednesday to form a unity government within the next weeks and hold elections six months later.
Divisions between Palestinians widened after Hamas, which won the last general elections in 2006, seized the Gaza Strip from forces loyal to Abbas in 2007.
But while the European Commission welcomed the reconciliation between both Palestinian parties, it also urged all sides to go back to the negotiating table.
‘We urge all parties to work towards this end (resume peace talks) and to refrain from further unilateral measures’, Mann said.
“We have taken note of the Israeli government?’s decision to suspend their participation in the talks pending further clarity on the reconciliation deal. We continue to strongly support the American mediation efforts and we hope it will be possible to resume the talks soon because that is our priority,”
Last December, the EU pledged unprecedented support to both Israel and Palestine if a peace accord was reached.