Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday rejected a proposed
cease-fire with Hamas' in the Gaza Strip, saying that the
government would not talk with the Islamist group until it
recognizes Israel, local media reported.
During a weekly cabinet meeting, Olmert said that "The State of
Israel has no interest in negotiating with entities that do not
recognize the (international) Quartet demands," adding Israeli
army's clash with Hamas and Islamic Jihad (Holy War) militants in
Gaza are nothing short of a war.
"We cannot describe it any other way... we will keep fighting
terror while doing our best to avoid a humanitarian crisis in
Gaza," said Olmert.
"Our security forces have for months conducted numerous
operations in the Gaza Strip, in order to reduce to a minimum the
Qassam rocket fire, which has plagued the residents of the South,
and in order to target those responsible for the Qassam fire," the
prime minister said.
He asserted that Israel's military operations against the
Palestinian militants will continue.
Five Palestinian militants were killed and four wounded last
Thursday in an Israeli army ground forces incursion into central
Gaza Strip, Palestinian medics said. Over 20 Palestinian gunmen
have been killed in the past week as Israel stepped up its
operations in Gaza to curb the incessant rocket attacks.
The international Quartet of Middle East negotiators, including
the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia, have
demanded that Hamas recognize Israel, renounce violence, and accept
previously signed agreements between Israel and the
An adviser to Gaza's Hamas leaders said recently that they were
prepared to reach a truce with Israel if it stops its military
campaign against Gaza militants and opens crossings into the
impoverished, isolated territory. However, Israel's official
position remains that it will not talk to Hamas unless the group
renounces violence and recognizes Israel's right to exist.
(Xinhua News Agency December 24, 2007)