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Israel will not negotiate with Hamas: Olmert

The acting Israeli PM said that it has the backing of the international community in its refusal to negotiate with Hamas.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2006 13:39 IST

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel has the backing of the international community in its refusal to negotiate with Hamas, but he pledged Israel would not close the door on all peace talks.

Olmert said the leaders of United States, Britain, France and Italy back Israel's policy toward Hamas, the violent Islamic group that won last month's Palestinian parliamentary election.

He did not mention Russia, which has invited Hamas leaders for talks in Washington, angering Israel.

"We will not conduct any negotiations with Hamas or with anyone who is part of it or dependent on it," Olmert said.

International backing for this policy gives Israel the ability to protect its security "without closing off diplomatic avenues, if those exist, to continue progressing forward."

He did not elaborate, but Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has indicated he might take over diplomatic contacts with Israel, leaving domestic issues to a Hamas government.

Abbas was elected president of the Palestinian Authority a year ago and remains in power despite the sweeping Hamas defeat of his Fatah Party in last month's parliamentary election.

On Sunday, acting Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said the invitation to Moscow could crack international resolve to isolate Hamas, responsible for dozens of suicide bombings that have killed hundreds of Israelis.

"The Russian position is currently not accepted in the international community," she told Israel Radio.

First Published: Feb 13, 2006 13:39 IST