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Israel Halts Peace Talks After Palestinian Unity Move

One day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was calling off his side's participation in the next session of peace talks with Palestinian leaders, Israel's Cabinet has endorsed that decision and "unanimously decided to cut off contacts," The Associated Press writes.

The impetus, as we reported on Wednesday, is the announcement from the Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas that they plan to form a national unity government within five weeks.

As the AP notes: "Israel is furious over Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' decision to form a unity government with the rival Hamas movement after a seven-year rift. Israel and the West consider Hamas a terrorist group."

Talks could always resume at some point, of course. The New York Times notes that "the Israelis said no talks would be held at least until the new unity government announced by the Palestinians takes shape." But it's difficult to envision the type of Palestinian government that might lead Israel to reverse its position. The Times adds that Israel said "it would not in any circumstances negotiate with a government that was backed by Hamas, the militant Islamic faction it considers a terrorist group."

The AP concludes that Israel's decision "appears to end a nine-month peace initiative by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The negotiating period is scheduled to end next Tuesday, though the sides had been trying to agree to an extension."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.

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