March 17, 2007 / 11:42 PM / 13 years ago

U.S. criticizes Palestinian platform, speech

(Adds background, additional quotes)

WASHINGTON, March 17 (Reuters) - The United States said it was disturbed by the new Palestinian government’s claim of a right to resist Israel and disappointed with a speech on Saturday by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh expressing that right.

The unity government pairs secular Fatah with Islamist Hamas, considered by the United States to be a terrorist group. It was sworn in by President Mahmoud Abbas after Haniyeh declared in a speech that "resistance in all its forms, including popular resistance to occupation, is a legitimate right of the Palestinian people."

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Nancy Beck said any Palestinian government must renounce violence, recognize Israel and respect peace agreements.

"The national unity government’s platform reference to the right of resistance is disturbing and contradicts the Quartet principles of renunciation of violence," Beck said.

"The prime minister’s speech to the Palestinian Legislative Council was disappointing and inconsistent with the Quartet principles as well as the National Unity Government’s adherence to the foundational principles of peace," she said.

The Quartet of Middle East peace mediators is comprised of the United States, the United Nations, Russia and the European Union.

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