Russia says Int'l demands of Hamas unrealistic
Prime Minster Ehud Olmert left for Russia this week with great expectations regarding Palestinian, Iranian issues. But now even after visit it seems as though Russians are whistling all old tunes on both topics with FM Lavrov saying that Russia will oppose any sanctions on Iran
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert apparently wasn't very successful in persuading the Russiansn during his trip to Moscow last week. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that international demands for Hamas to immediately renounce violence and recognize Israel were unrealistic at present, and that the Palestinian movement should be given more time to honor them.
"Demanding now that Hamas fully accept the quartet's conditions, such as the recognition of Israel, the denunciation of violence against Israel, and the acceptance of all existing agreements is unrealistic at the present stage," Lavrov said Friday in an interview with the Kuwaiti news agency KUNA which was posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry's Web site Saturday Lavrov added that the ruling Palestinian movement could "move gradually toward accepting these conditions."
He criticized unidentified members of the quartet of "trying to influence this process by making excessive demands, excessive at the present stage." After Hamas won parliamentary elections in January, Moscow invited the militant group's leaders to visit Russia despite Israel's objections. At the same time, Russia joined the United States and the EU in demanding that Hamas recognize Israel, abandon violence and acknowledge existing peace pacts with Israel.
The Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem did not comment.
Lavrov said Russian leaders told Olmert that the international community should start by encouraging Hamas to acknowledge all existing peace agreements and recognize President Mahmoud Abbas, of the rival Fatah movement, as the only international negotiator for the Palestinians". That would be a very important step in the direction we all want," Lavrov said.
Months of contacts to bring the current Hams-led government and Abbas' Fatah movement into a national unity government have broken down. Abbas wants Hamas to accept the international demands, but so far he has been unsuccessful. The standoff has spilled over into violence, killing at least 17 people in Gaza and the West Bank this month.