Livni rejects Russian offer to pass messages on to Hamas
FM to Russian envoy: We intend to harm Hamas in Gaza, we've nothing to discuss with them.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Sunday rejected an offer by a Russian envoy to contact Hamas via Russia in order to reach a cease-fire with the Palestinian militant group in Gaza.
"We are serious in our intention to harm Hamas and we have no intention to give them legitimize them and pass messages on to them. We have nothing to discuss with Hamas," Livni told Alexander Saltanov, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's special envoy to the Middle East.
Livni spoke to Saltanov, a deputy foreign minister, as the Israel Defense Forces pushed deeper into Gaza in its offensive aimed at halting cross-border rocket fire.
She was responding to Saltanov's asking her whether Israel would be interested in Russia passing on a message to Hamas' Damascus-based politburo chief Khaled Meshal.
Also Sunday, Medvedev told outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday that Russia is seriously concerned about civilian casualties from Israel's operation in Gaza, the Kremlin said.
"The Russian side expressed its serious concern over the numerous victims among the civilian population and the grave humanitarian situation," the Kremlin said in a statement describing a telephone conversation between the two men.
"The Russian president also stressed the importance of a ceasefire as soon as possible."
Russia is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and one of the Quartet of Middle East mediators.
Saltanov flew to the region on Sunday to press for a ceasefire, the foreign ministry said.