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Last Updated: Monday, 24 September 2007, 22:52 GMT 23:52 UK
Israeli writers urge Hamas truce
Israeli writers David Grossman and Amos Oz, who signed the petition
The writers said the move could "bring an end to rocket attacks"
A group of prominent Israeli academics and writers have urged the government to negotiate a ceasefire with Hamas, the militant group in control of Gaza.

In a petition, they said this would help bring an end to the suffering of Israelis and of Palestinians.

Internationally-acclaimed authors Amos Oz, David Grossman and AB Yehoshua were among the signatories.

Israel rejected the petition, saying a group dedicated to Israel's destruction could not be a partner for any talks.

'Counterproductive'

"Israel has in the past negotiated with its worst enemies," the petition said.

Giving recognition and legitimacy to Hamas can only strengthen the extremists and undermine the moderates
Mark Regev
Israeli foreign ministry spokesman
"Now, the appropriate course of action is to negotiate with Hamas to reach a general ceasefire to prevent further suffering for both sides."

In response, Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Mark Regev described the petition as counterproductive.

"The position of the government of Israel and that of the European Union, Canada and the United States is that we must engage with the Palestinian moderates," he said.

"Giving recognition and legitimacy to Hamas can only strengthen the extremists and undermine the moderates," Mr Regev added.

Israel has no contacts with Hamas, which it considers a terror group.

Israel holds Hamas responsible for almost daily rocket attacks on its territory from inside the Gaza Strip, where the Islamist group seized control in June.



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