The European Union has signalled that it could accept a Palestinian unity government that could include Hamas.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, speaking to reporters in Jerusalem on Wednesday, used new language to describe the conditions under which the bloc would be prepared to work with a new coalition, should Hamas and Fatah manage to agree to one.
Europe still insists Hamas stop fighting Israel, however.
Instead of repeating three conditions, Solana said only that a new Palestinian government that included Hamas should commit to pursuing a two-state solution.
Western powers rejected to give aid to the Palestinian Authority in 2006 when Hamas won a parliamentary election and formed a government.
They restored aid to the Authority when President Mahmoud Abbas, the Fatah leader, formed a new government without Hamas in the West Bank following Hamas's takeover in Gaza.
Solana said: "Whenever that (reconciliation) takes place, it has to be a team of people that will continue trying to obtain what is the desperation of so many people, which is two states, and two states that can live together."
He cited an Arab League proposal for a comprehensive regional peace that is conditional on creating a Palestinian state and an Israeli withdrawal from occupied territory.
"Those who can work in that direction, of course, they have to be helped and supported," Solana said.
It is unclear if the new European formula will help the Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation talks.
Egypt has proposed Feb. 22 as the date for the start of talks between Palestinian factions.
But Solana acknowledged reconciliation would be "very difficult". Hamas no longer recognises Abbas as president.
Hamas leaders have offered a long-term truce with Israel in return for a viable Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
Solana said also Europe is ready to send back its team of observers to the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt at any moment.
Last Mod: 29 Ocak 2009, 13:41