Israel's foreign minister has ruled out peace talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, saying he would be unable to enforce any peace deal with Israel because the Islamic militant group Hamas now controls the Palestinian Authority.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told Israel Radio on Monday that the minute President Mahmoud Abbas appointed Hamas to form a new Palestinian government, the Palestinian Authority became illegitimate in Israeli eyes.
Israel's foreign minister says Israel does not want to be in a situation where it is dealing with a moderate Mahmoud Abbas who is powerless to deliver a peace agreement or enforce existing agreements the Palestinian Authority has with Israel.
Livni's comments echoed those she made on Sunday, following talks with U.S. Mideast envoy David Welch.
According to media reports, the U.S. envoy proposed a policy under which the United States would work directly with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas instead of Hamas, which controls the Palestinian parliament. U.S. officials have said they will not recognize Hamas as long as it refuses to recognize Israel and disarm, but they say they remain committed to supporting President Abbas.
As head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Mr. Abbas is charged with holding peace talks with Israel, while the Hamas-led Palestinian Cabinet is responsible for the daily administration of the Palestinian Authority.
In an interview with the Palestinian daily Al Quds, Hamas' prime minister-designate Ismail Haniyeh said his government would not negotiate with Israel, but would work to open talks with Israel concerning what he described as day-to-day issues.
Meanwhile, President Abbas says his comments in a British television interview that quoted him as saying he would resign if unable to pursue peace with Israel were "completely untrue." Mr. Abbas says the translation of his comments into English was not accurate.
In a similar incident, Hamas leader Haniyeh said he was misquoted in a Washington Post interview that said Hamas would recognize Israel if it withdrew to its 1967 borders. The Hamas leader says he never discussed the issue of recognition of Israel, but only of a long-term truce with the Jewish state.