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Israeli fury at Russian overtures to Hamas

Moshe Katsav

By Adam Entous, Jerusalem
ISRAEL yesterday protested against a plan by Russia to have talks in Moscow with Hamas, the Islamic militant group that swept recent Palestinian elections and whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction.

But Russia stood its ground and predicted other countries would follow its lead in dealing with Hamas.

Israeli President Moshe Katsav said Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened peacemaking prospects if he followed through on his invitation to Hamas to visit after its victory in parliamentary elections on January 25.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni warned against a "slippery slope" that could lead international powers to compromise with Hamas.

Meir Sheetrit, an Israeli cabinet minister and ally of interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said Israel should consider recalling its ambassador to Russia, and accused Mr Putin of "stabbing Israel in the back".

Mr Putin’s overture to Hamas came as a blow to Israel, which wants a boycott of Hamas at least until it recognised the Jewish state and renounced violence.

Israel has ruled out negotiating with the group, which masterminded more than 60 suicide bombings against Israelis since 2000 but has largely adhered to a truce declared in March.

"Any weakness ... will result in a negative effect - not only for Israel, but also for the Palestinian people and for the international community," Mr Livni said.

Mr Katsav told Israel Radio that Mr Putin’s invitation to Hamas was liable to undermine peace prospects.

Israeli officials said Russia, as part of the quartet of major powers trying to broker Middle East peace, had a responsibility to shun Hamas.

"It’s not just a slap in the face to Israel. It’s a slap in the face to Western countries," said one Israeli official.

But Russian Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov defended Russia’s offer of talks with Hamas.

"Hamas is in power, this is a fact, and secondly, it came to power as a result of free democratic elections."

He said Moscow was not happy with all of Hamas’s policies, but predicted the West had to deal with it.

France sided with Russia.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Denis Simonneau said: "We share with Russia the goal of leading Hamas toward positions that permit reaching the objective of two states living in peace and security."

On January 30, quartet representatives said the Palestinians risked losing aid if Hamas did not renounce violence and recognise Israel. Hamas rejected the demand.

 

Israeli fury at Russian overtures to Hamas

Moshe Katsav

By Adam Entous, Jerusalem
ISRAEL yesterday protested against a plan by Russia to have talks in Moscow with Hamas, the Islamic militant group that swept recent Palestinian elections and whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction.

But Russia stood its ground and predicted other countries would follow its lead in dealing with Hamas.

Israeli President Moshe Katsav said Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened peacemaking prospects if he followed through on his invitation to Hamas to visit after its victory in parliamentary elections on January 25.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni warned against a "slippery slope" that could lead international powers to compromise with Hamas.

Meir Sheetrit, an Israeli cabinet minister and ally of interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said Israel should consider recalling its ambassador to Russia, and accused Mr Putin of "stabbing Israel in the back".

Mr Putin’s overture to Hamas came as a blow to Israel, which wants a boycott of Hamas at least until it recognised the Jewish state and renounced violence.

Israel has ruled out negotiating with the group, which masterminded more than 60 suicide bombings against Israelis since 2000 but has largely adhered to a truce declared in March.

"Any weakness ... will result in a negative effect - not only for Israel, but also for the Palestinian people and for the international community," Mr Livni said.

Mr Katsav told Israel Radio that Mr Putin’s invitation to Hamas was liable to undermine peace prospects.

Israeli officials said Russia, as part of the quartet of major powers trying to broker Middle East peace, had a responsibility to shun Hamas.

"It’s not just a slap in the face to Israel. It’s a slap in the face to Western countries," said one Israeli official.

But Russian Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov defended Russia’s offer of talks with Hamas.

"Hamas is in power, this is a fact, and secondly, it came to power as a result of free democratic elections."

He said Moscow was not happy with all of Hamas’s policies, but predicted the West had to deal with it.

France sided with Russia.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Denis Simonneau said: "We share with Russia the goal of leading Hamas toward positions that permit reaching the objective of two states living in peace and security."

On January 30, quartet representatives said the Palestinians risked losing aid if Hamas did not renounce violence and recognise Israel. Hamas rejected the demand.

 

Israeli fury at Russian overtures to Hamas

Moshe Katsav

By Adam Entous, Jerusalem
ISRAEL yesterday protested against a plan by Russia to have talks in Moscow with Hamas, the Islamic militant group that swept recent Palestinian elections and whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction.

But Russia stood its ground and predicted other countries would follow its lead in dealing with Hamas.

Israeli President Moshe Katsav said Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened peacemaking prospects if he followed through on his invitation to Hamas to visit after its victory in parliamentary elections on January 25.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni warned against a "slippery slope" that could lead international powers to compromise with Hamas.

Meir Sheetrit, an Israeli cabinet minister and ally of interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said Israel should consider recalling its ambassador to Russia, and accused Mr Putin of "stabbing Israel in the back".

Mr Putin’s overture to Hamas came as a blow to Israel, which wants a boycott of Hamas at least until it recognised the Jewish state and renounced violence.

Israel has ruled out negotiating with the group, which masterminded more than 60 suicide bombings against Israelis since 2000 but has largely adhered to a truce declared in March.

"Any weakness ... will result in a negative effect - not only for Israel, but also for the Palestinian people and for the international community," Mr Livni said.

Mr Katsav told Israel Radio that Mr Putin’s invitation to Hamas was liable to undermine peace prospects.

Israeli officials said Russia, as part of the quartet of major powers trying to broker Middle East peace, had a responsibility to shun Hamas.

"It’s not just a slap in the face to Israel. It’s a slap in the face to Western countries," said one Israeli official.

But Russian Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov defended Russia’s offer of talks with Hamas.

"Hamas is in power, this is a fact, and secondly, it came to power as a result of free democratic elections."

He said Moscow was not happy with all of Hamas’s policies, but predicted the West had to deal with it.

France sided with Russia.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Denis Simonneau said: "We share with Russia the goal of leading Hamas toward positions that permit reaching the objective of two states living in peace and security."

On January 30, quartet representatives said the Palestinians risked losing aid if Hamas did not renounce violence and recognise Israel. Hamas rejected the demand.

 

Israeli fury at Russian overtures to Hamas

Moshe Katsav

By Adam Entous, Jerusalem
ISRAEL yesterday protested against a plan by Russia to have talks in Moscow with Hamas, the Islamic militant group that swept recent Palestinian elections and whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction.

But Russia stood its ground and predicted other countries would follow its lead in dealing with Hamas.

Israeli President Moshe Katsav said Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened peacemaking prospects if he followed through on his invitation to Hamas to visit after its victory in parliamentary elections on January 25.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni warned against a "slippery slope" that could lead international powers to compromise with Hamas.

Meir Sheetrit, an Israeli cabinet minister and ally of interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said Israel should consider recalling its ambassador to Russia, and accused Mr Putin of "stabbing Israel in the back".

Mr Putin’s overture to Hamas came as a blow to Israel, which wants a boycott of Hamas at least until it recognised the Jewish state and renounced violence.

Israel has ruled out negotiating with the group, which masterminded more than 60 suicide bombings against Israelis since 2000 but has largely adhered to a truce declared in March.

"Any weakness ... will result in a negative effect - not only for Israel, but also for the Palestinian people and for the international community," Mr Livni said.

Mr Katsav told Israel Radio that Mr Putin’s invitation to Hamas was liable to undermine peace prospects.

Israeli officials said Russia, as part of the quartet of major powers trying to broker Middle East peace, had a responsibility to shun Hamas.

"It’s not just a slap in the face to Israel. It’s a slap in the face to Western countries," said one Israeli official.

But Russian Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov defended Russia’s offer of talks with Hamas.

"Hamas is in power, this is a fact, and secondly, it came to power as a result of free democratic elections."

He said Moscow was not happy with all of Hamas’s policies, but predicted the West had to deal with it.

France sided with Russia.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Denis Simonneau said: "We share with Russia the goal of leading Hamas toward positions that permit reaching the objective of two states living in peace and security."

On January 30, quartet representatives said the Palestinians risked losing aid if Hamas did not renounce violence and recognise Israel. Hamas rejected the demand.