Republican presidential hopeful John McCain said Tuesday that progress in peace talks between Israeli and Arab officials is doubtful because Middle East terrorists do not want Israel to exist. "It's complicated rather dramatically by the fact that in Gaza you have a terrorist organization in charge that is dedicated to the extinction of the state of Israel," the Arizona senator told about 150 people at a town hall meeting. "It's kinda hard to make progress in negotiations with a group of people who want to take you out completely." McCain said Israel is the only freely elected democracy in that region. "Israel deserves the right to exist," he said. "Israel, in my view, must be protected from the Iranians if they develop nuclear weapons."