'Put pressure on Hamas, not Israel'

Peres tells Austrian chancellor: Terrorists now control the flotillas.

June 24, 2010 15:27
1 minute read.
Peres meeting with Faymann in Jerusalem, Thursday.

Peres Faymann 311. (photo credit: GPO)

Austria should pressure Hamas to change its policy, rather than Israel, President Shimon Peres told his counterpart from Vienna on Thursday at Beit Hanassi.

"We left Gaza voluntarily and I do not understand the flotillas.  In order to change the situation in Gaza, there is no need for flotillas or activists but a change in Hamas's terrorism policy," Peres told Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann.

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The president went on to tell Faymann that the flotillas aiming to break the blockade on the Gaza Strip had changed in their nature: "Terrorist organizations – Hizbullah, Hamas and the Iranians – have taken over the flotillas and are not interested in peace, they are looking for provocations and conflict."

Nonetheless, the president thanked Austria for its support of newly imposed sanctions on Iran.

In response, Faymann said that Austria would like to assist in advancing the peace process and that he believes that "strengthening Gaza and its economy would prevent the Palestinians living in Gaza from turning to support the extremist organizations and would lead to a significant increase in support for peace negotiations with Israel."

Regarding the peace process, Faymann called for a renewal of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

The Jerusalem meeting came the day after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyhau called on the world to intervene and prevent a boatful of women from Lebanon from sailing to Gaza, saying there was no reason for these boats and that Israel had lifted its restrictions on what was allowed into Gaza.

Speaking during a joint press appearance with Faymann, Netanyahu noted the irony that Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas – not exactly champions of women’s rights – were sending a female flotilla to Gaza.

“Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas, which want to return the world to the middle ages; which don’t let their women dress, work or express themselves freely; whose women live in subjugation, and sometimes without basic rights and subject to violence – precisely those regimes are the ones organizing a boat of women as propaganda against Israel,” he said.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report

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