Ramallah : Israeli President Shimon Peres on Wednesday turned down ceasefire talks offered by Hamas leader Ismail Haniya.
Israel Radio quoted Peres as saying that if Hamas and Islamic Jihad wanted to stop firing rockets at Israel, they had to do so immediately, and then Israel, in its turn, would stop its attacks.
He billed Haniya’s proposal as a bid to shift international attention from Palestinian rocket-firing attacks on Israeli targets, seeing no need for negotiations.
The Israeli Haaretz newspaper claimed on Wednesday that Haniya had contacted Israeli reporters to offer Palestinian rocket-firing halt in exchange for Israel’s cessation of assassinations and incursions.
Meanwhile, Israeli Minister of Transport Shaul Mofaz called for indirect talks with Hamas for the sake of reaching a political agreement that could eventual lead to a truce.
Speaking to Israel Radio, Mofaz did not rule out indirect negotiations with Hamas, which does not recognize Israel.
But, if so, he emphasized that Israeli leaders should seek a mediator between Israel and Hamas.
However, he vowed that Israel would continue air strikes and assassinations against Palestinian activists.
He added that Israel might seek a mediator for talks with Hamas, which is to blame for firing rockets at Israeli targets after it took control over Gaza.