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Cheney Accuses Hamas, Syria and Iran of Trying to Torpedo Mideast Peace.

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem)

Vice-President Dick Cheney said Monday that Hamas militants, backed by Syria and Iran are trying to "torpedo" current peace negotiations between Israel and moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Speaking just before he left Israel after two days of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Cheney accused Hamas and its backers in Syria and Iran of doing everything they can to sabotage the current round of negotiations between Israel and the moderate Palestinian government of President Mahmoud Abbas.

His comments came following a meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Olmert's spokesman Mark Regev said there is plenty of evidence to back up Cheney's claims.

"We have no doubt that the extremist elements; Hamas, Islamic Jihad the Iranians will do what they can to destroy any chance of the peace process succeeding," said Regev. "We see evidence of that every day. They are shooting rockets into Israel, they want to provoke an escalation, and they do not want to see the peace process succeed."

Cheney also said that he and senior Palestinian leaders had discussed a proposed reconciliation agreement between Abbas' Fatah movement and Hamas terrorists who control the Gaza Strip.

On Sunday representatives of the two Palestinian factions meeting in Yemen, agreed to hold direct talks in the near future. Cheney said he believes Abbas has set preconditions for the talks that would require Hamas to relinquish control in Gaza before any reconciliation could take place. A statement from Abbas' office confirmed that policy but Hamas said the agreement reached in Yemen has no preconditions.

U.S. and Israeli officials said they would have nothing to do with Hamas unless and until the group renounces violence and agrees to recognize Israel.

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Publication:Israel Faxx
Date:Mar 25, 2008
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