Israel: Hamas "Playing Games" with Ceasefire Talk

[Jerusalem Post] Gil Hoffman and Herb Keinon - After Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh told Israel Channel 2 television Tuesday that he was prepared to negotiate an end to the rocket attacks on Israel, senior Israeli government officials indicated that an end to rocket fire from Gaza alone would not be enough to bring about a halt to IDF action in Gaza. Hamas would also have to stop building up its military capabilities. "Israel cannot allow a situation where Hamas is free to build a formidable military machine in Gaza," said one government official. Prime Minister Olmert's spokesman, Mark Regev, said Hamas was "playing games," and that Israel would not deal with Hamas until it accepted the international community's three benchmarks: forswearing violence, recognizing Israel, and accepting previous agreements. "Our partner for discussions on the Palestinian side is the legitimate Palestinian government," Regev said. "Hamas has excluded itself from talks by its continued rejection of the international community's benchmarks." President Shimon Peres called Haniyeh's overture a "pathetic and misleading attempt to divert international attention away from the crimes of Hamas and Islamic Jihad....If Hamas and Islamic Jihad stop firing rockets at our women and children, Israel will immediately hold its fire, so there is no need for negotiations....Hamas does not give hope to [the Palestinian] people. Its sole purpose is to sow destruction, bloodshed and war, and the moment it ceases its violent crimes, quiet will once again reign in our region."

2007-12-20 01:00:00

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