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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Israel should talk with Hamas, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani told visiting Vice Premier Shimon Peres on Tuesday.
Peres, the highest-level Israeli official to visit the Persian Gulf in more then a decade, replied that Hamas was not interested in dialogue with Israel, did not accept previously-signed agreements with Israel, was not willing to forswear terrorism, and has even said that an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines would not lead it to sign a peace agreement.
Peres arrived in Qatar Monday night to take part in BBC a program on Tuesday called The Doha Debates in front of an audience of Arab students.
During his meeting with the emir, Peres asked the Qataris to continue their efforts to bring about the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit.
Peres said the abduction of Shalit, and the attacks on Israel since disengagement from Gaza, were "illogical and harm chances to move the process forward."
Peres last visited Qatar when he was prime minister in 1996. He was accompanied at Tuesday's meeting by his adviser Yoram Drori and Roi Rosenblit, the head of Israel's trade mission in Doha.
Qatar is the only Persian Gulf country that has an Israeli presence. An Israeli trade mission in Oman was shut down shortly after the outbreak of Palestinian violence in September 2000.
According to a statement put out by Peres's office, the emir expressed disappointment that, because of the situation in the region, bilateral relations had not developed at a greater pace. He was also quoted as saying he was prepared to have an open relationship with Israel, and inviting Peres back whenever he wanted to visit.