Israeli Vice Premier Haim Ramon said Monday that the Jewish state is holding talks directly with the Palestinian movement Hamas, despite a government decision forbidding such moves.
This is the first time that Israel has officially admitted any direct contact with the militant group that the Jewish state regards as a terrorist organization, local daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported on its website.
The talks "are in direct defiance of the government's resolution, according to which Israel would agree to talk to the group only after it accepts the conditions set by the Quartet," Ramon admitted at a meeting of lawmakers from the Kadima party.
The Quartet of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nation has demanded Hamas recognize Israel, renounce violence and ratify past agreements and the road map.
Israel is negotiating a possible ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit with Hamas, apparently with Egypt being the middleman, in a manner, the report said not to breach the "political siege" Israel imposed on Hamas since its violent takeover of the coastal strip in June last year.
Commenting on the stance of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and some other ministers that Shalit's release must be included in the truce deal, Ramon, however, said the two issues should not be linked together, as "a humanitarian one" has nothing to do with "the war on terror."
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
George Bush, John McCain Think Israelis are Appeasing Terrorists
According to Israeli news sources: