Friday, February 03, 2006

Putin’s Comments On Hamas Spark Row Between Russia, Israel

Russia and Israel are on the verge of a diplomatic row after President Putin stated at a personal press-conference that Russia never viewed Hamas as a terrorist organization. According to Moscow Kommersant daily, Israeli officials were shocked by Putin openly supporting Palestinian terrorists. Commenting on Hamas recent victory at the Palestinian legislative elections at a press conference, Putin said Russia never declared Hamas a terrorist organization, although it never supported its actions. The West should not cut financial aid because of the Hamas’s victory in the elections, he added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin
“Hamas must refrain from radical statements, recognize Israel’s right to exist, and establish contacts with the international community,” Putin said. “We’re calling upon Hamas to consistently work in that direction.” However recognizing Israel was just one of the three issues that the international community demands from Hamas in an agreement that Putin has also signed. Hamas has to be committed to three issues — to stop violence, to follow all the agreements signed with Israel and to recognize the existence of Israel. Israeli authorities cannot accept a position that assesses terrorism in different countries differently. “Hamas terror actions have killed more than 550 Israelis, many of them of Russian origin. We cannot see the difference between a bus explosion in Jerusalem and a terrorist attack in Moscow or Beslan,” unnamed Israely diplomat was quoted by Kommersant as saying.