Israel warns Abbas against reconciliation with Hamas

Monday, March 24, 2008 |  by Staff Writer

Israeli officials on Monday warned Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas that concluding a reconciliation agreement with the Hamas terrorist organization would effectively sink renewed US-driven peace talks.

A day earlier, envoys from Abbas' Fatah party met with Hamas officials in Yemen to sign an agreement on reviving direct talks between the two dominant Palestinian factions.

Fatah severed all contacts with Hamas after the latter seized control of the Gaza Strip nearly a year ago in a brutal coup against forces loyal to Abbas. Hamas leaders said the takeover was made necessary because Abbas had failed to allow the group to effectively rule despite having won control of the Palestinian parliament through democratic election.

Speaking to the French news agency AFP on condition of anonymity, a senior Israeli official said that Abbas "must decide whether he wants to continue negotiations with Israel or if he wants to renew an alliance with Hamas, as he cannot have both at the same time."

Israel refuses to include Hamas in the diplomatic peace process, regardless of its commanding position in Palestinian society, because the group remains openly dedicated to the Jewish state's ultimate destruction. That a majority of average Palestinians agree enough with Hamas' positions to vote the group into power has been brushed aside by Israeli and Western peace brokers.

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