Hamas plays down Israel ceasefire hopes

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MOSCOW, March 3 (RIA Novosti)-A senior representative of Hamas played down Friday hopes that the radical organization would be able to broker a ceasefire with Israel.

"Last year, Palestine came forward with an initiative for a year," said Khaled Meshaal, the head of a Hamas delegation to talks in Moscow. "But Israel did not end its aggression and did not approve this initiative. Therefore, we do not relate to a ceasefire with any particular enthusiasm."

He said the ball was in Israel's court, saying that the Palestinian National Authority had held elections, but Israel had responded by whipping up tension.

"Arafat was in talks with Israel for more than 20 years, but Israel killed Arafat," Meshaal said. "Do you want us to sit down to the negotiating table, and let Israel kill Hamas?"

The Hamas delegation is in Moscow at the invitation of President Vladimir Putin. It has already met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss the Middle East conflict resolution.

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