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Quartet Says No Armed Groups in P.A. Govt

Officials of the Quartet implied on Wednesday that they wish to see a Palestinian government which excludes armed groups such as Hamas.

The Quartet, which includes the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations, said the cabinet that is formed after the Palestinian legislative elections in January should exclude groups that reject Israel’s right to live in peace and security.

“Those who want to be part of the political process should not engage in armed group or militia activities, for there is a fundamental contradiction between such activities and the building of a democratic state,” the Quartet said in a written statement.

“The Quartet calls on all participants to renounce violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist, and disarm.”

The Quartet statement has been contradicted by the Chief Observer of the European Union, Veronique De Keiser.

“We don’t consider somebody a violent person forever,” she said in an interview with The Media Line. “Some people can change when they think the political issue is more interesting for them.”

The statement mentioned no group by name but it appears to indicate the Palestinian armed organization Hamas, which the United States has designated a terror organization.

Hamas plans to participate in the elections for the first time and polls suggest the group enjoys considerable support.

The Quartet urged the Palestinian Authority to take the necessary steps to prohibit groups from pursuing their goals through violent means.

The Quartet was formed in 2002. It issued the Road Map, which aims to pave the way for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The statement coincided with fresh violence in the Palestinian Authority, as dozens of masked gunmen took over election offices in Gaza.

The gunmen feel they have been excluded in the election race, after two factions of the ruling Fatah party joined to form one unified list.