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Israel Objects to Russia-Hamas Talks


Israel has expressed regret over talks in Moscow between Russian officials and the Islamic militant group Hamas, which swept to power in Palestinian parliamentary elections five weeks ago. Israeli officials accuse Russia of harming the war on terror.

Israel's acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert, called for a united international front against Hamas, as the group's leader, Khaled Mashaal, held talks with the Russian government in Moscow.

Speaking to members of his Kadima Party at a closed-door meeting, Mr. Olmert was quoted as saying that Hamas should be isolated, until it renounces violence, recognizes Israel and revokes its charter calling for the destruction of the Jewish state.

Hamas' suicide bombings have killed hundreds of Israelis, and as Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni put it:

"There is nothing to speak with the Hamas, to talk the Hamas, to meet the Hamas, and the message should be clear and only one message."

Livni said the international community should treat Hamas as a pariah state.

"The Hamas is a terrorist organization, it is a designated terrorist organization, and here comes the conclusion: I mean when an entity, a state, is being led by terrorists, the meaning is that this entity, this authority, is going to transfer into a terror state," Livni said.

Israel wants to squeeze Hamas politically and financially. It has cut off $50 million monthly tax payments to the Palestinian Authority, and it hopes that the international community will follow suit. But Israeli officials were dismayed by a European Union decision to transfer $143 million in emergency aid to the Palestinians. That, along with Russia's decision to talk to Hamas, has Israel worried that the international consensus it seeks to isolate Hamas is gradually eroding away.

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