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Olmert: Cease-fire talks not political

JERUSALEM, June 15 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Sunday said cease-fire talks with Hamas aren't being influenced by politics or any other kind of outside forces.

Olmert's remarks were in response to Defense Minister Ehud Barak's Friday contention that political controversies surrounding the upcoming primary election for the Kadima Party were delaying Olmert's decision-making process in the cease-fire negotiations, the Jerusalem Post reported Sunday.

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"Nothing else and no other consideration, including political, will delay this decision," Olmert said during a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. "Things said on the subject were unnecessary and pointless. On a daily basis I am making decisions as prime minister. I am not afraid."

The Egyptian-brokered cease-fire negotiations, aimed at obtaining an agreement from Hamas to end its firing of rockets into southern Israel, were also criticized by Hamas, which denounced "continued Israeli foot-dragging" on the proposed truce.

"The enemy is the one that must decide on the nature of the next stage: calm and quiet, or war and conflict," the Post quoted Hamas legislator Mushir al-Masri as saying.

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