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Israel to Continue Gaza Attacks Until Hamas Stops Rockets

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told reporters in France that Israel will not agree to an immediate halt of its attacks on Gaza.  She spoke following meetings with French officials.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told reporters that Israel would only decide whether or not to halt its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip based on a daily assessment of the situation.  

A number of country's have called for Israel to accept a ceasefire, but Livni said any truce would be a pretext for the militant Palestinian group to rearm.

"We want to weaken Hamas in the Gaza Strip," said Tzipi Livni. "At the end of the day, Hamas is not only a problem to Israel but to the entire Palestinian people, they are a problem to those who understand what is the nature of Hamas.  They are a problem to all the Arab states that understands they have their own radical elements back home, including Muslim brotherhoods in different places."

Livni spoke at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris following talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.  She said President Sarkozy understands the threat Israel is facing from Hamas, which continues to launch rockets into Israeli territory.

While Mr. Sarkozy handed over the presidency of the European Union to the Czech Republic on New Year's Day, he appears determined to continue playing a prominent role in world affairs - including the Middle East conflict.

On Monday, the French president is to begin a tour of the Middle East that will take him to Israel, the West Bank, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.  Before his trip, Mr. Sarkozy is to meet Friday with the majority leader of Lebanon's parliament, Saad Hariri.

In a New Year's eve address, Mr. Sarkozy said it is France's duty to seek peace in the Middle East.  


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