Talks with Hamas possible: Peres
JERUSALEM, Dec 31: Israeli President Shimon Peres said on Monday that there was no fundamental reason not to talk to the militant Palestinian Hamas if it renounces violence and decides to take a constructive course.
“There is nothing wrong with talking with Hamas, if you get an answer,” Peres told local Christian leaders at a New Year’s reception in Jerusalem.
“But Hamas and Gaza have to decide what do they want, peace or war,” he added in remarks in English broadcast by Israeli army radio.
The radio’s website quoted Peres as saying that future relations were up to the Islamic Hamas itself, which rules the Gaza Strip and espouses violent opposition to the Jewish state.
“What kind of relationship do they want to have with Israel,” it quoted him as saying. “A relationship of shooting or of building?
If they want to build, Israel would be happy to see them succeed. We take no pleasure in seeing anyone, young or old, suffering in Gaza.”
Israel and much of the international community formally shun Hamas as a terror organisation.
The so-called Quartet of Middle East peacemakers — the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States — demands that Hamas recognise Israel, renounce violence and pledge to honour existing Palestinian agreements with Israel if it wants to become a diplomatic player.Peres’s office did not release a full transcript of Monday’s remarks but said in a statement that “President Peres stressed that he opposes negotiations with Hamas while they reject the three principles of the Quartet.”—AFP