France backs Russian decision on Hamas
French Foreign Ministry spokesman says regarding Putin’s decision to invite Hamas leaders to Moscow ‘we share with Russia the goal of leading Hamas toward positions that would allow for the goal of two states living in peace and security to be reached’; Hamas must renounce violence, recognize Israel, he adds
France expressed support Friday for a Russian effort to reach out to Hamas, but reiterated that the Palestinian terrorist group must renounce violence and recognize Israel.
French Foreign Ministry spokesman Denis Simonneau said Russia did not consult its international partners about its initiative. But “We believe that it is an initiative that can contribute to advancing our positions,” he added.
“We share with Russia the goal of leading Hamas toward positions that would allow for the goal of two states living in peace and security to be reached,” Simonneau said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday invited leaders of Hamas, the terrorist group responsible for dozens of suicide bombings in Israel, to visit Moscow.
A Hamas leader quickly accepted the invitation. Hamas won a surprise victory in Palestinian legislative elections last month and is expected to take power in two or three months.
Simonneau noted that the European Union regards Hamas as a terrorist organization - as do Israel and the United States.
He said France could only consider having talks with Hamas if the group renounces violence and recognizes Israel and the Oslo peace accords.
'Hamas needs time'
In an interview with the New York Sun, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni warned that some members of the international community were attempting to compromise with Hamas.
"There is a tendency sometimes among some in the international community to try and understand, to reach agreements, to take a backward step," said the foreign minister.
Like Israel, the U.S. government was amazed and furious with Russian President Vladamir Putin's invitation to Hamas. A U.S. official asked how Russia would respond to a U.S. invitation for Chechen rebels to visit Washington.
U.S. anger is further fuelled by the signature of Russia to a Quartet agreement to freeze contacts with a Hamas controlled PA until Hamas ended terrorism, recognized Israel, and abided by agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged the international community to give Hamas time to change it ways before ruling it out as a partner.
"We are at a very early stage of the game," Annan told reporters in New York.
"Hamas won the election but they have never been in government. They need time to organize themselves," he said.
Annan also told Hamas to listen to the warnings of the international community, to take upon itself the commitments of the Palestinian Authority, to abandon the path of terrorism, and to recognize Israel.