Israel mulls French summit offer

June 5, 2011 at 7:31 AM

JERUSALEM, June 5 (UPI) -- Israel will mull France's proposal for a peace conference but will not speak with a Palestinian Authority that includes Hamas, Israel's prime minister says.

Binyamin Netanyahu told Cabinet members Sunday he would consider the proposal raised by French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe last week concerning the July conference aimed at advancing the peace process.

"We appreciate a great deal our French friends, and I will answer them after we consider matters," The Jerusalem Post quoted Netanyahu as saying.

Netanyahu, however, emphasized Israel will not deal with a Palestinian government "half of which is made up of Hamas, a terrorist organization that seeks to destroy Israel," the newspaper said.

Sending a mixed message concerning Hamas, Netanyahu later said if Hamas leaders are serious about peace they should prove it by releasing captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

If his relations with Hamas are so good, then Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas should pressure the group to free Shalit, Netanyahu said.

Shalit was abducted during a cross-border raid in June 2006 and has been held incommunicado in the Gaza Strip ever since.

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