Russian FM calls int'l demands on Hamas 'unrealistic'
Palestinian FM Zahar tells Gaza rally Israel is an 'abomination' which Hamas will never recognize.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday 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.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar of Hamas told demonstrators in Gaza on Friday that Israel is an abomination in the Middle East that will some day disappear.
"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 in an interview with the Kuwaiti news agency KUNA which was posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry's website Saturday.
The quartet of international mediators includes the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia.
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.
He said Russian leaders told Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who visited Moscow last week, that the international community should start by encouraging Hamas to acknowledge all existing peace agreements and recognize Palestinian Authority Chairman 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 Fatah 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.
Zahar, at Gaza rally, says Hamas will never recognize Israel Speaking at a rally in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, the Palestinian foreign minister said Hamas would never accept Israel's existence.
"We will never recognize Israel, and the end the [fate of] Zionists will be like that of the Crusaders, the Persians and the English, who left. We want all of Palestine, every centimeter, from the river to the sea, from Rosh Hanikra to Rafah. If we can form a state within the 1967 borders we will do so, but this doesn't mean that we will relinquish our right to every centimeter of Palestine's land," he said.
In his speech, Zahar also addressed the Palestinian prisoners in Israel and promised them that Hamas will do all that it can to secure their release, including kidnapping more Israeli soldiers.