00:04 GMT25 June 2021
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    ST. PETERSBURG (Sputnik) - Israeli Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Zeev Elkin, in an interview to Sputnik, refuted media reports alleging that Israel was considering the possibility of agreeing on a ceasefire with Palestinian militant group Hamas.

    "No, I cannot confirm these media reports. It is difficult to talk about reconciliation with a terrorist organization, which openly proclaims the elimination of the Israeli State as its goal and is constantly involved in the organization of terrorist attacks against Israel," Elkin said.

    The Israeli minister noted that Hamas was not interested in a new escalation of tensions with the Israeli army, as it learned its painful lesson during the latest escalation in 2014, when Israel provided a harsh response to the militant group.

    "That is why it is not a question of a ceasefire, but an example of the Middle East's respect for [the use of] force," Elkin stressed.

    READ MORE: IDF: Israeli Air Force Hits Hamas Underground, Naval Targets in Gaza Strip

    Earlier on Thursday, the Israeli Channel 10 reported, citing diplomatic officials, that Israel was considering accepting a long-term ceasefire with Hamas after rejecting the offer for weeks. The broadcaster, in particular, specified that Israel was allegedly ready to waive the requirement for Hamas' demilitarization and handing over the management of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority.

    On Dispute Over Holding Next Eurovision Contest in Jerusalem

    Elkin stressed that he did not expect any disputes over Israel’s potential decision to hold the 2019 Eurovision song contest in Jerusalem.

    "Eurovision traditionally takes place in the capital or in the city in which the winner country chooses. I think no one has any doubt that Israel will choose Jerusalem. I believe that there should be no problems with the Eurovision organizers because the rules should be the same for the entire civilized world," Elkin said on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

    He added that Eurovision had been held three times in Jerusalem in the past.

    Earlier this week, the contest organizers asked Eurovision fans to refrain from "booking flights just yet" in a statement on Facebook, as the time and location of the 2019 event had yet to be set. The announcement comes amid uncertainty regarding Jerusalem’s status as well as recent tension caused by the relocation of several embassies, including that of the United States, from Tel Aviv to the holy city.

    A number of political parties, in particular, in Sweden and the United Kingdom, urged to boycott the event in the light of the human rights abuses of Israel against the Palestinian people. In Iceland, over 25,000 people signed a petition demanding that the contest be held elsewhere.

    READ MORE: 'Beautiful Missile Launch:' Israel Lashes Out at Eurovision Song Parody

    The Eurovision final took place two days ahead of the United States' embassy relocation.

    Israel seized then Jordan-controlled East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War. In 1980, the Israeli parliament adopted the Jerusalem Law proclaiming the entire city Israel’s undivided capital. The international community does not recognize the annexation and believes the status of Jerusalem should be agreed with the Palestinians, who claim its eastern part as the capital of their future state.


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