Jerusalem – Peres: Israel Would Talk To Hamas If Quartet Terms Accepted

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 Israeli President Shimon Peres (C ) shakes hands with the Latin Patriarch of the Holy Land, Foud Twal, following Peres' speech in the president's Jerusalem residence to assorted clergy, both Christian and Moslem, on the occasion of New Years, 31 December 2012. Peres hosted his traditional reception for heads of the Christian faiths and spoke at length about the need for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, including the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip.  EPA/JIM HOLLANDERJerusalem – President Shimon Peres on Monday pursued his calls for peace when addressing spiritual and lay leaders of Israel’s Christian community, withstanding the waves of criticism that he encountered on Sunday after telling Israeli diplomatic missions abroad that Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas is a leader with whom Israel can reach a peace agreement.

This time he refrained for mentioning Abbas, but spoke instead of Hamas, saying that people ask why Israel won’t talk to them. “It’s not that we won’t talk to them,” he said, “they won’t talk to us.

Peres said that Israel would be willing to talk to Hamas if it accepted the three conditions laid down by the Quartet, namely: renunciation of terror; recognition of Israel; and entering negotiations with Israel. “They have to decide if they want peace or war” said Peres, adding that if they continue to shoot rockets into Israel, Israel will retaliate.

As for the PA, Peres said that it has established security forces with Israel’s approval and is building up its economy with Israel’s help, and he expressed confidence that peace could be achieved.


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