France jumps into diplomatic row to side with Putin’s proposal to invite Hamas to Moscow. Turkey follows suit
French Foreign Ministry spokesman Denis Simonneau said: “As long as we stay within the framework of the objectives and principles that we have fixed, we think that this initiative can contribute towards advancing our position.” He added: “We share with Russia the goal of leading Hamas towards positions that permit reaching the objective of two states living in peace and security.”
Israeli officials are dismayed by the erosion of the Jan. 30, Quartet decision to make aid conditional on Hamas renouncing violence and recognizing the Jewish state. Hamas has rejected the demand. Russia as a member endorsed this decision.
But Russian defense minister Sergei Ivanov defended president Vladimir Putin’s invitation to Hamas by arguing: “Hamas is in power… as a result of free democratic elections.” Moscow is not happy with all of Hamas`s policies, but the West has no choice but to deal with it.
Sooner or later certain countries, including those of the Quartet, will favor contacts with Hamas, he said.
In Jerusalem, Putin’s invitation has been called a knife in Israel’s back for which the Russian ambassador should be put on the carpet.
The White House earlier demanded clarifications from Moscow after the Russian president said: We haven’t considered Hamas a terrorist organization. Today we must recognize that Hamas has attained power in a legitimate election and we must respect the choice of the Palestinian people.
In New York, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan cautioned against hasty judgments and advocated patience while Hamas forms a new Palestinian government.