Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he sees a partner for peace talks in the emergency Palestinian government appointed by President Mahmoud Abbas.
Any government without the radical Islamic Hamas movement signalled a possibility for peace that Israel has not had for a long time, Olmert said on urday before heading to Washington for talks with US President George W Bush. Olmert said his government would work hard to take advantage of that opening.
Abbas declared a state of emergency and dissolved the Hamas-led unity government this week after Hamas launched an all-out assault on Fatah's security forces in Gaza, taking complete control of the Strip. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya rejected the dissolution.
On Saturday, Abbas approved an emergency cabinet of independent technocrats, led by former finance minister Salam Fayyad, Israeli media reported. The decree does not need parliamentary approval.
Israeli media reported that Bush and Olmert plan to announce a number of "gestures" to bolster the interim Palestinian government when they meet Tuesday, including a possible easing of sanctions imposed after Hamas won Palestinian elections and took over power in March 2006.
The Middle East Quartet - consisting of the US, UN, EU and Russia - said it recognised the interim government of Fayyad as "legitimate", and called for an "urgent" end to violence and respect for the human rights of all in Gaza.
Over 100 people were killed in the Hamas-Fatah clashes, which have created two separately controlled regions in the Palestinian territories - a Hamas-ruled Gaza and a Fatah-controlled West Bank.