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Abbas to be Hamas 'fig leaf': Israel

Israel branded Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "irrelevant" on Sunday, calling Hamas the real governing power.

india Updated: Feb 27, 2006 01:42 IST
Reuters
Reuters
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Israel branded Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "irrelevant" on Sunday, calling Hamas the real governing power and urging the international community not to weaken its pressure on the militant group to seek peace.

The description of the moderate leader, who won public backing by a US. envoy over the weekend, came on the eve of a European Union meeting on preventing the Palestinian Authority's financial collapse and possibly channelling aid to Abbas.

Israel has stopped the monthly transfer of $50 million-$55 million in tax payments to the Palestinians. Foreign donors, including the EU and the United States, threaten to cut off funds to the Authority once a Hamas-led government is sworn in.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said she feared Abbas, who seeks a negotiated peace with the Jewish state, could serve as a "fig leaf" for an administration dominated by Hamas, an Islamist movement that advocates its destruction.

"Our job, among other things, will be to ensure the international community does not ... embrace Abu Mazen or some moderate statements by Hamas," she said on Channel One television, using Abbas's popular name.

Earlier, Hamas's prime minister-designate Ismail Haniyeh denied he had suggested in a Washington Post interview the group might one day recognise Israel, saying there was only a possibility of achieving a long-term truce.

First Published: Feb 27, 2006 01:42 IST