Israel rejects call to talk with Hamas

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Foreign Ministry rejected a call by the presidents of Russia and Turkey to include Hamas in the peace process.

In a joint news conference Wednesday in Ankara, Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev and Turkey’s Abdullah Gul said Hamas should not be excluded from the current peace process. Gul said peace could not be achieved without Hamas involvement.

"Nobody should be excluded when these talks are held," Gul said. "Unfortunately the Palestinians are divided in two. They must be united, and to unite them there must be talks with both sides. The Hamas side won elections in Gaza and so cannot be ignored."

Israel’s Foreign Ministry in a statement released late Wednesday also condemned Medvedev’s meeting that day with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Damascus.

"Israel has always stood behind Russia in its fight against Chechen terrorism and we expect similar treatment in the case of Hamas terrorism against Israel," the statement said.

"Hamas is a terrorist organization in every sense of the word; its declared purpose is the destruction of the State of Israel. Members of Hamas have been responsible for the murder of hundreds of innocent civilians, including Russian citizens and other former residents of the CIS. It is totally unacceptable for enlightened nations to divide terrorists into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ according to some geographical division. Terrorists are terrorists, and Israel does not see any difference between the Hamas terror operating against Israel and the Chechen terror operating against Russia. There is no difference between Khaled Mashaal and Shamil Basayev."
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