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Incoming Hamas chief wants political truce
Updated: 2006-02-27 09:11

Israel says it will refuse to deal with a Hamas government unless the group recognizes the Jewish state, disarms and accepts past peace accords with Israel. Until Hamas meets these conditions, "everything else is empty words," said Cabinet Minister Roni Bar-On.

On Sunday, Israel's acting foreign minister said Abbas is "not relevant" because of the victory of Hamas' win in last month's elections and its takeover of the Palestinian parliament and Cabinet.

Tzipi Livni spoke after meeting U.S. envoy David Welch. The two discussed how to relate to Abbas, the Fatah leader who is president of the Palestinian Authority, in light of the landslide Hamas victory over Fatah. Last week Abbas picked Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh to form a new Cabinet.

Livni's statement reflected an apparent difference in approach between Israel and the U.S. Israel Radio reported that Welch put forward a policy in which the U.S. would work with Abbas instead of the Hamas-led government, but Israel rejected that.

Livni told Israel Radio that Abbas "can't be a fig leaf for a terrorist authority." She said the Hamas government must decide about Israel's demands for recognition and renunciation of terror, and Abbas "in this regard is not relevant."

Without referring to the radio report, Micaela Schweitzer-Bluhm, spokeswoman of the U.S. consulate in east Jerusalem, said, "In terms of Abu Mazen (Abbas), we remain fully committed and supportive of him."

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called Livni's remarks "totally unacceptable." Erekat, from Fatah, said: "The Israelis are trying to undermine the Palestinian people in general because they don't differentiate between one Palestinian and the other."

In Jordan, two Hamas lawmakers dismissed any future peace talks with Israel, calling past negotiations "a failed experiment" and said Arab nations had rejected U.S. pressure to force the militant Palestinian movement to moderate.

Hamas leaders Mahmoud Zahar and Saeed Syiam made the comments during a gathering of Arab parliamentarians on the Jordanian shore of the Dead Sea.

Speaking to The Associated Press on the sidelines of the conference, Zahar asserted that Hamas' recent upset victory in last month's legislative elections strengthened its hardline stand.

"We don't consider the Israeli enemy a partner. By winning the elections, we defeated Israel," he said. "Why should we recognize Israel? Pressure is coming from the United States on us, not from Arab countries."

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