Ramon: 'Gov't negotiating with Hamas'

Vice premier says talks held despite policy of only meeting Hamas once it accepts Quartet's conditions.

haim ramon 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
haim ramon 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Vice Premier Haim Ramon acknowledged on Monday that Israel was conducting negotiations with Hamas - contrary to the government's own policy on the matter, even if those talks were being held via Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. He urged Israel to cease all contact with the group and act against terror. "Negotiations are being conducted with Hamas in contrast to the government's decision, which has determined that it will only be possible to deal with Hamas after it accepts the conditions of the Quartet," Ramon stated during a Gaza policy discussion which was held as part of a Kadima faction meeting. "We aren't fighting against a terror organization, rather a state of terrorism," Ramon continued, "a terror organization has an area under its control and Israel cannot, in my opinion, make peace with a Hamas state on the southern border." "We decided that we would speak with Hamas only if it accepts the Quartet's conditions. I really hope that we will take the strategic position and not reconcile ourselves to accepting a Hamas state on our borders," the vice premier stated. During the meeting, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that the government would not let Independence Day celebrations and elaborate state visits detract attention from the situation in the South of the country. He reminded Kadima MKs about his comments from Sunday, in which he warned of possible action to stop the unrelenting Kassam rocket fire. "I said the decision is getting closer and closer," Olmert said. He added that the "perpetual threat has reached a climax," and vowed not to let the current reality for residents of the South continue for much longer. "The decision hour is near," he assured, repeating comments he made during Sunday's cabinet meeting.