Olmert criticizes Putin's Hamas meeting

Russian President emphasizes that Russia would not harm Israel's security.

putin 298 ap (photo credit: AP)
putin 298 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke Sunday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who telephoned in order to update him on Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's recent talks with Hamas leaders in Moscow. According to a statement released by the Prime Minister's Office, Putin emphasized several times that Russia would not take any step directed against Israeli interests and would not harm Israel's security. He said that Russia's representatives presented the Quartet's demands to Hamas during the talks. He explained the Russian position that supports holding contacts with Hamas and said that negotiations are always held with interlocutors whose positions are harsh and complicated. Olmert, according to the statement, said that Israel's position was very different from Russia's and added that Israel would not negotiate with a terrorist organization such as Hamas. He said that it was a mistake to meet the Hamas leaders before the organization committed itself to accepting the three principles approved by the Quartet, of which Russia is a member. He said that Russia's contacts with Hamas would only encourage the organization not to make the changes that the international community is demanding of it in order for it to become a partner for dialogue. Olmert added that when a Hamas-led government is established it would be impossible to make the artificial distinction between the Palestinian Authority government, the Hamas-controlled PA parliament and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. After holding a press conference with Russia's chief mufti, Ravil Gainutdin, Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal on Sunday continued meeting with Russian religious leaders as part of his tour of the Russian capital. On the last day of his visit, Mashaal initiated a meeting with Russian patriarch Aleksei II. "Our delegation asked for the meeting with the patriarch and it is very important for us, as we Muslims work in close cooperation with our Christian brothers in Palestine," Mashaal told RIA Novosty. "The Russian Orthodox Church always supported the creation of independent Palestinian state," said the Patriarch after meeting with the Hamas delegation. "We are sure that there is no other alternative but dialogue between the two sides, and the peace dialogue must be continued despite the actions of individual politicians." According to Father Mark Egorievski, the head of the public relations office of the Moscow Patriarchate, the political aspect of the events in the Middle East was not discussed during the meeting but rather the humanitarian conditions in the Palestinian territories as well as the situation of Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land. According to sources in the delegation, Mashaal promised, "equality between the Christians and the Muslims will be maintained. "We are living like brothers, Christians and Muslims. Also the Jews lived in peace with us before the occupation began," Mashaal said. However, Mashaal didn't specify whether the Islamic laws that concern alh al-kitab (the people of the book), such as prohibition of erecting churches that would be higher then mosques and obligation of wearing a special mark on clothes will be implemented in the future. Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister designate, and Mahmoud al-Zahar, had said earlier that, "Sharia code will be the main source of legislation in Palestine."