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Israel: New Palestinian regime may be labeled terror state

Official warns Hamas-led government may face sanctions

From Elise Labott
CNN Washington Bureau

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Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni visits U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington on Wednesday.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Israel's foreign minister said Wednesday a Hamas-led Palestinian government could be designated a terrorist state, subject to sanctions, if it refuses to recognize Israel and renounce terrorism.

"When an entity, a state is being led by terrorists, the meaning is that this entity, this authority, this state is going to transfer into a terror state," Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told reporters after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington.

Livni said that the international community "has their own sanctions and measures when it comes to an entity which transfers into a terror entity."

Rice declined to answer a question on whether the United States agreed a Hamas-led government could constitute a terrorist state subject to U.S. sanctions.

Hamas won 76 of the 132 seats in the Palestinian parliament during the January 25 elections. The Fatah Party, which has dominated Palestinian politics for four decades, felt a backlash from voters, winning 43 seats.

Hamas' charter calls for the destruction of Israel, and its leaders have rejected calls to renounce violence.

The United States, European Union and Israel list Hamas as a terrorist organization. Hamas also has operated a network of social and charitable organizations for Palestinians.

Rice firm on border talks

On Tuesday, acting Israeli Prime minister Ehud Olmert, referring to his nation's withdrawal from the West Bank, said that Israel would maintain its major settlement blocs and all of Jerusalem within its borders.

"We will separate from most of the Palestinian population that lives in Judea and Samaria, and that will obligate us to separate from territories that the state of Israel is in today," Olmert said.

"We will gather into the main settlement blocs; we will keep Jerusalem unified."

In response to questions about Olmert's comments, Rice restated the U.S. position that borders should be negotiated.

"No one should try and unilaterally predetermine the outcome of a final status agreement," Rice said.

She noted President Bush's comments that life in the region has changed since Israel annexed the West Bank after the Six-Day War of 1967 and that new realities on the ground need to be considered when redrawing the map.

But she added that "under no circumstances" should anyone do that "in a pre-emptive or predetermined way."

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