Israel Slams Russian Remarks

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Israel's Foreign Ministry slammed Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's inference that Hamas should participate in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Speaking with reporters in Ankara on Wednesday, alongside Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Medvedev said no one - by inference Hamas - should be excluded from the negotiations.

Medvedv was fresh from a visit to Damascus on Tuesday where he met with exiled Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in Damascus after an earlier meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

"Hamas is responsible for the murder of hundreds of innocent civilians, including those who came from the former Soviet Union and also Russian citizens," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement released on Thursday.

"It is forbidden for enlightened countries to divide terrorists into good and bad ones on the basis of geography," the Foreign Ministry stated.

"A terrorist is a terrorist," and there is no difference between Hamas terrorism against Israel and Chechen terrorism agains Russia, the Foreign Ministry said.

"There is no difference between [Hamas chief] Khaled Meshaal and [the late Chechen leader] Shamil Basayev, who was killed in 2005."

"Israel has always stood behind Russia in its fight against Chechen terrorism and would have expected similar treatment regarding Hamas terrorism against Israel," it concluded.

Despite Hamas' oft-repeated statement that it will destroy the "Zionist occupiers," i.e., Israel, Russia has never distanced itself from the group.

As a member of the Quartet, along with the United States, European Union and United Nations, Russia has not backed the Quartet's three requirements for the Palestinians: that they acknowledge Israel's right to exist, renounce terrorism and accept previously signed agreements between Israel and the PA. 

Meanwhile, Russia has committed to building a nuclear plant in Turkey and possibly one in Syria as well. Russia built Iran's Bushehr reactor, slated to go on line this summer.

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The Jerusalem Post contributed to this report.

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