Israel is adopting a tough stance toward the Islamic militant group Hamas, after its stunning election victory last week. Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says Israel will not deal with the Palestinian Authority unless Hamas makes some fundamental changes.
"Hamas must renounce terror, recognize Israel's right to exist in peace and security and annul its charter calling for Israel's destruction," Mr. Olmert said at the weekly Cabinet meeting. Otherwise, he said, there will be no contacts between Israel
and the Palestinians.
Mr. Olmert said he delivered that message in telephone calls to the leaders of Britain, France, Egypt and Jordan, and to the UN secretary-general. He said these principles are acceptable to the international community, and there would be no compromise.
Israeli Cabinet Minister Tzahi Hanegbi: "Hamas is still a terrorist organization, who is still committed to the destruction of the state of Israel, and you can't really have a dialogue with someone who would like you to be erased off the face of the earth."
Hamas has made it clear that it will not amend its charter calling for Israel's destruction and it will not disarm. In fact, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said he wants to build a Palestinian army to confront Israel.
Hamas has also rejected American and European threats to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority unless Hamas renounces violence. As Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh put it: "We will not give in to blackmail."