Moscow to distance itself from Hamas

Saleh Naami in Gaza, Wednesday 15 Dec 2010

Russia has reportedly assured Israel that it will distance itself from Hamas and Syria, as it is keen to win an international bid for expanding an oil pipeline within the Israeli heartland

The Russian government sent several messages to its Israeli counterparts in the past few weeks assuring them that it plans to downgrade relations with Hamas, an Israeli website reported.

An Israeli official told Tik Debka, an Israeli website specialising in intelligence, that Russia had taken strategic decisions to change its policy approach in the Middle East, specifically by degrading ties with Syria and Hamas.

The website added that these messages were sent by Russian officials to Tel Aviv a month before Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is set to tour the Middle East, marked by a visit to the Israeli capital.

According to the site, Israeli officials have expressed deep concern several times at high level meetings that were held between Russian officials and Hamas leaders and recent arms deals that were concluded between Damascus and Moscow.

The Russian officials also said that although they showed interest in investing money in Lebanon's new oil fields, they intend to pump more money in Israeli oil and gas fields are especially keen to win an international bid for expansion of the oil pipeline between Eilat, in the far south, to Askalan in centre of the country 

Other officials informed the website's experts that representatives from Gazprom, a giant Russian oil group, held several meetings in Tel Aviv with Israeli oil companies who work on gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea -- the Tamar, Delit and Lafitan gas fields.

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