Israeli Ambassador to Rome Gideon Meir criticized on Thursday Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema's call for talks between Hamas and Israel, saying "it is saddening to hear that during the period of mourning for the eight Mercaz Harav yeshiva students there are those who call for negotiations with barbarians and murderers."
Last Monday the D'Alema told foreign reporters "without engaging in dialogue with the Palestinians who govern Gaza, the peace process will have difficulties in moving ahead. Peace in Ramallah will depend on peace in Gaza," he said. "War and peace cannot be separated by just a few kilometers."
According to Meir, whose response made headlines in Italy, "those who call on us to negotiate with Hamas, are essentially asking us to discuss the measurements of our coffins and the roses that will be placed on them.
"Hamas' stance is known and it has not changed – they want to destroy the State of Israel," he said, "such calls for a ceasefire are simply a step on the way to the realization of Hamas' dream to destroy Israel and establish a religious-fundamental state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea."
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was quick to commend the Italian minister, saying "the European Union's position is improving. They realized that is was a mistake not to negotiate with Hamas. We especially appreciate the statement made by Massimo D'Alema."
Ambassador Meir added that calls for talks with Hamas before the Islamist group complies with the international community's conditions undermine the negotiations between Israel and Palestinian President Mahmoud) Abbas.
"The fact that the head of a terror organization (Haniyeh) praises this (D'Alema's) position, does not add much dignity to those who support it," he said.