Hamas embarks on a quest for international legitimacy on Friday with an official visit to Russia. The trip marks the Islamist group’s first talks with a major power involved in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking since it won January’s general election in the Palestinian territories.
The US has sought to isolate the movement. But some western powers believe Russia’s mediation is a chance to talk the faction into renouncing violence and recognising the state of Israel. Baker Abdel Munem, Palestine’s ambassador to Russia, says: “Before they (Hamas) were looking from an angle as the opposition and now they will look from the angle that they are in the government. With this understanding they will see a different view. With this different view I don’t think that they will cross the red lines which they established but they will find new touches in the picture.” Yesterday Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met Amir Peretz, leader of Israel’s Labour Party, which trails the new Kadima party and the right-wing Likud in polls ahead of the general election on March 28. Abbas said he wanted negotiations on so-called final status issues to go ahead.