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Israel must meet international obligations: Fayyad

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - The Palestinian Authority said Wednesday the next Israeli government should meet international obligations to continue with peace talks.

“Regardless of the form of government that will emerge ... we have the same expectations,” Prime Minister of the self-rule Palestinian Authority Salam Fayyad told reporters.

“We imagine that the expectations of the international community (toward Israel) will be the same as ours.”

Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party and Tzipi Livni’s centrist Kadima party both claimed victory late on Tuesday night after a tight election result.

But the bloc of right-wing parties appeared to have secured a majority, including Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party which surged into third place on anti-Arab rhetoric.

“Steps have to be taken to end the occupation that began in 1967. This should mean immediate implementation of key provisions and obligations that the government of Israel had assumed previously,” Fayyad said.

He listed these as a freeze on Jewish settlement in all territories Israel occupied in 1967, a redeployment to positions before the Palestinian uprising launched in 2000 and lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

The PA led by U.S.-backed leader Mahmoud Abbas has support from the new U.S. administration and the international community for a resumption of peace talks aimed at an independent Palestinian state.

But Netanyahu’s Likud and other right-wing Israeli parties reject out of hand most of the Palestinian demands.

The Palestinian position is complicated by a sharp divide between by Abbas’ Fatah faction and the Islamist group Hamas, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.

Israel launched a 22-day land, sea and air assault on Gaza on December 27 which left over 1,300 Palestinians dead. But Hamas remains in control and talks have not yet begun on forming a Palestinian unity government, a possible precursor to any resumption of peace talks with Israel.

Hamas is engaged in separate talks with Israel through Egyptian mediators on a durable ceasefire with Israel, releasing prisoners and lifting the blockade of the coastal territory.

It said the group’s demands would remain the same whoever forms the next government of Israeli, but noted the shift to the right as a sign that peace was not about to break out.

“The election results show the Zionists (Israelis) are leaning toward more extremism, crime and terrorism against the Palestinian people and they do not know the language of peace,” said Hamas official in Gaza Mushir al-Masri.

“That requires our people and our factions of resistance to unite and to stick to the choice of resistance and Jihad, which the only choice capable of putting an end to Zionist extremism,” he said.

Reporting by Ali Sawafta and Nidal al-Mughrabi, writing by Andrew Hammond, editing by Richard Balmforth