Change in Hamas policy can lead to talks: Peres

Published on Jan 28, 2006 09:07 AM IST

Israeli elder statesman Shimon Peres said Israel would not talk to the group "if Hamas will not change the policy".

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None | ByAssociated Press, Davos

Israeli elder statesman Shimon Peres has suggested that Israel might accept talks with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas as long as it abandoned terrorism.

Speaking in Davos, where he was attending the World Economic Forum, Peres said on Friday that Israel would not talk to the group "if Hamas will not change the policy" - a reference to its use of violence and commitment to the destruction of Israel.

"Until now Hamas didn't change the policy," he said, adding: "they don't want to engage in talks, you can't force them."

In comments to the British Broadcasting Corporation, Peres elaborated that Israel would "have to see where they (Hamas) are going - back to the road of violence and terror, or ahead to the route of peace.

"They didn't take yet a decision. They weren't prepared for this victory."

Peres, an 82-year-old Nobel peace laureate, recently left the dovish Labor Party to join the centrist Kadima Party, which is expected to win Israel's elections on March 28 and give him a senior position.

But his comments seemed somewhat at odds with those of Ehud Olmert, the Kadima leader and acting prime minister who has ruled out talks with any Palestinian government that includes Hamas.

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