Germany backs Israel's demand that the international community shun Hamas unless the it renounces violence and recognizes the Jewish state, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Monday, during his first visit to Israel.
"I wanted to let Israel know that it can count on our solidarity, especially after the Palestinian elections," Steinmeier said after meeting acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. "I affirm the (Israeli) principles for contacts with the Hamas movement."
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The German reassurances come at a time when Israel is increasingly concerned the international front against Hamas is crumbling. Russian President Vladimir Putin has invited Hamas leaders to Moscow, saying he will press the Palestinian group to recognize Israel and give up violence. France has supported Moscow's approach.
Germany does not consider Hamas a partner in negotiations and recognizes Israel's concern over Russia's decision to meet with Hamas leaders. Steinmeier said.
He said he was not optimistic that the group would change its ways.
"In statements by Hamas, there are no indications that the movement is inclined to face reality," Steinmeier said. "So for the time being it does not look like Hamas will turn into a serious partner for negotiations."
On Tuesday, Steinmeier was to meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and outgoing Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser al-Kidwa, but not with Hamas officials. Later, he will also visit Jordan and Turkey.