Israel slams Russia's Hamas stance

Gov't issues an unusually sharp response to Medvedev's suggestions.

Medvedev and Gul 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Medvedev and Gul 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The Foreign Ministry issued an uncharacteristically sharp response on Wednesday to a Russian and Turkish call to include Hamas in the diplomatic process, drawing parallels between Hamas and Chechen terrorists and saying it was wrong to distinguish between “good” and “bad” terrorists.
The statement, released at the directive of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who is currently in Tokyo, said Hamas was a terrorist organization that set as its goal the destruction of Israel.
“Hamas people are responsible for the murder of hundreds of innocent civilians, including those who came from the former Soviet Union, and also Russian citizens,” the statement said. “It is forbidden for enlightened countries to divide terrorists into good and bad ones on the basis of geography.”
It stressed that “a terrorist is a terrorist” and that Israel saw no difference whatsoever between the terrorism that Hamas deployed against Israel, and the terrorism that the Chechens used against Russia.
“There is no difference between Khaled Mashaal and Shamil Basayev [a Chechen leader who was killed in 2006],” it read.
“Israel always stood behind Russia in its fight against Chechen terrorism, and would have expected similar treatment regarding Hamas terrorism against Israel,”the Foreign Ministry statement said.
What raised Israel’s ire was a comment Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made in Ankara on Wednesday, during a visit with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying – in a clear reference to Hamas – that no one should be excluded from the Mideast peace process.
Medvedev met Mashaal in Damascus on Tuesday, following a meeting he held with Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Although Russia is a member of the Middle East Quartet, which alsoincludes the US, EU and UN, it has never accepted the Quartetprinciples that there should be no engagement with Hamas until itforswears terrorism, recognizes Israel and accepts previous agreements.Russia is one of three European countries that continue to maintaincontact with Hamas, the others being Turkey and Norway.
While this is not the first time the Russian leadership has met withMashaal, this is the harshest response that Israel has ever releasedregarding the matter, and one diplomatic official said it reflecteddeep frustration in Jerusalem.
At the same time, the official said there was little concern that justbecause Russia and Turkey wanted to see engagement with Hamas, otherWestern countries would follow suit.