Should Israel negotiate with Hamas? Hamas' stunning elections victory is "direct result of the disengagement and Palestinian realization that terror and violence is the way to achieve political gains," Likud officials say.
"Olmert and Kadima are setting up a Hamas terror state that will be a branch of Iran, several kilometers away from Israel's population centers," the Likud charged in the wake of reports Hamas has won the Palestinian elections.
Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert "brought Hamas to Jerusalem," Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Yuval Steinitz (Likud) charged.
"By caving in to international pressures, (Olmert) led Israel's fight against terrorism to a historic nadir," Steinitz said. "If Olmert continues this way, Iran's terror arms will threaten Jerusalem, central Israel, and Ben Gurion airport."
Meanwhile, Knesset Member Effie Eitam (National Union) said in "(Hamas leader) Mahmoud al-Zahar should send a large bouquet of flowers this morning to Ehud Olmert and the ministers of his government who preferred to give up on the war against terror."
According to former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor), "we will be ready to talk with anyone who acknowledges our right to live in peace and safety," referring to the possibility of eventual talks with Hamas.
"If it will be Hamas – so be it. If it acknowledges that, it will no longer be Hamas," he said.
Ben-Eliezer added that "the equation is simple. Whoever recognizes the State of Israel, and I stress, as the Jewish people's state, we will be ready to talk to him."
He also explained that according to the Palestinian constitution, the biggest faction is not necessarily the one to form the government.
"We must observe and see what has actually happened. The question is not whether Hamas is going to join the government or whether Fatah will join the government. We have to see what the ramifications will be and how the Palestinian plan to organize themselves," he added.
'All our fears realized'
"The results point to one thing: All our fears were realized. We are facing a much more difficult problem, because there is no partner. We have to wait for international pressure to be exerted here, because it is not going to be simple," Ben Eliezer said.
"And there is another hypothesis, according to which the moderates will want to maintain the calm. They have spoken about the Hudna, a truce, a cease-fire. Therefore, we have to see what is happening," he said.
Meanwhile, Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz convened some of leading party members in order to discuss the developments in the Palestinian Authority and the election results.
Ilan Marciano also contributed to the report