Sami Abu Zuhri, a leader of the Palestinian Hamas Party in Gaza, said he expects talks between Hamas and Russia to take place later this month.
"We are going to present our positions … about the political developments and issues related to the rights of our people," Abu Zuhri said on Saturday. "Russia will listen to Hamas and Hamas will listen to Russia."
Meanwhile, Israeli authorities have expressed worries that talks with Russia will bring the international community to the point of ‘understanding why’ a party like Hamas exists, and that understanding is something Israel has been trying to prevent the world community from knowing. Tzipi Livni, Israel’s Foreign Minister, told Israel Radio, "Part of the danger is going down the slippery slope of first talking, then starting to understand why, then supporting with money, then granting legitimacy. This is a phenomenon that needs to be acted against."
Other Israelis are not so quick to write off the potential dialogue with the militant Hamas party. "The mentality of engagement is still the rule," says Shmuel Bar, a Middle East expert at the Herzlyia Interdisciplinary Institute, near Tel Aviv. "If we engage them, we can influence them," referring to the possibility of steering Hamas ledership toward a more moderate stance and away from influences of hard-line political Islamists such as the current leadership in Iran.
Condoleeza Rice, the U.S. Secretary of State, has expressed displeasure that Russia would meet with the Hamas party leadership, a party that the U.S. has termed ‘terrorists’, but says she remains convinced that Russia will not step outside of agreed upon policies of the ‘Quartet’ for Mid-East Peace, of which Russia is a member.
Russian envoy Alexey Pogodin spoke with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Sunday in the West Bank, apparently in preparation and planning for future talks between the Hamas party leadership and Russian President Vladimir Putin.