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No peace talks unless Hamas recognizes Israel: Netanyahu

AFP , Sunday 27 Apr 2014
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Reuters)
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday Israel would not negotiate with a Palestinian unity government unless Hamas declares it recognizes Israel.

Netanyahu said the preferable course of action to get peace negotiations back on track would be for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to renounce Hamas, the Islamist movement whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel.

"Either Hamas disavows the destruction of Israel and embraces peace and denounces terror or president Abbas renounces Hamas," Netanyahu said, speaking on CNN's State of the Union.

"If one of those things happened, we could get back to the peace negotiations. I hope he renounces Hamas and gets back to the peace table, as I've just said. The ball is in his court," he said.

Netanyahu suspended faltering peace talks with the Palestinians last week after Abbas and Hamas agreed to form a unity government.

Netanyahu's comments came after Abbas, in a speech Saturday to PLO leaders, said his unity government with Hamas would reject violence and abide by existing agreements.

Abbas also on Sunday declared that the Holocaust was "the most heinous crime" against humanity in the modern era, his strongest remarks yet on the Nazi genocide.

Despite the Israeli prime minister's stance, his cabinet appeared divided over how to respond to the new development.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Israel's chief negotiator with the Palestinians, said it was crucial to wait in see what sort of Palestinian government emerges.

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