Israel Says No Talks with a Palestinian Government that Includes Hamas

Israel Says No Talks with a Palestinian Government that Includes Hamas
Israel says it will not talk with a Palestinian government that includes the militant group Hamas unless a number of demands are met.


"The government of Israel will not carry out political negotiations with a Palestinian government that relies on Hamas, a terror organization which calls for the destruction of Israel," a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office Tuesday.


The statement spelled several conditions if there are ever to be talks. They include Hamas' disarmament, its repudiation of violence, and recognition of Israel.


Netanyahu also wants Hamas to give up Iranian support and return the remains of two Israeli soldiers and free two Israeli citizens believed to be held in Hamas-controlled Gaza.


There is little chance Hamas will agree to any of Israel's demands. Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called them "unacceptable Israeli interference in internal Palestinian affairs."


A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said "any Israeli remarks will not change the official Palestinian position to move forward with the reconciliation efforts to achieve the hopes and aspirations of our people in ending the division."


Hamas and the more moderate Fatah movement reached a preliminary agreement last week to re-unify after a 10-year split. The split left Palestinian territories divided between two governments -- the militant Hamas in the impoverished Gaza Strip and the more moderate Fatah in the West Bank.


Previous attempts at a united Palestinian government failed.