2014-04-27T112804Z_1_CBREA3Q0VV500_RTROPTP_2_PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-UNITY

For Washington, Palestinian pact not the end of Middle East peace hopes

Senior Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmed, head of the Hamas government Ismail Haniyeh and senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouq hold their hands after announcing a reconciliation agreement in Gaza CityBy Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The unity pact between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the militant group Hamas dealt a sharp punch to U.S.-driven peace negotiations with Israel, but the Americans insisted it was not a fatal blow to the struggling talks. Washington was stunned by the deal announced on Wednesday between Fatah, the faction that leads the West Bank, and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and is viewed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately suspended participation in the peace process brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

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