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3 Jun, 2009 12:35

“Mid-East conference with Hamas or Hezbollah impossible” –Israeli FM

Israel will not attend a Middle East conference in Moscow if Hamas or Hezbollah are invited, says Israel's Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman.

“We will not take part in any conference, either in Washington or Moscow, in which Hamas and Hezbollah take part,” Lieberman said at a news conference on Wednesday, during a two-day visit to Moscow to meet his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

He also said the agenda of the conference will become clear after U.S. President Barack Obama visits Russia in July, adding that in any case it should be determined in advance.

Lieberman stated that Israel is ready to accept the Arab peace initiative, if no provision on refugees is added.

“The Arab peace initiative contains a point which is absolutely unacceptable for us. This is Resolution 194 on [the return of] refugees. We're ready to accept the Arab peace initiative without this point," the Israeli foreign minister said.

"It is their problem that the Arab world artificially holds Palestinian refugees and does not allow them to develop. Given the financial resources owned by the Arab world – the [United Arab] Emirates and Saudi Arabia – and given its colossal territories, solving the problem of Palestinian refugees within the Arab world should not encounter any difficulties," he added.

Talks between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority stalled, following an Israeli offensive on Gaza from December 27, 2008 to January 22, 2009. It left some 1,300 Palestinians dead and 5,000 others injured.

President Obama has pushed for a two-state solution to the conflict, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for a tougher stance toward the Palestinians, in contrast to his predecessor Ehud Olmert's support for Palestinian statehood.

On the issue of Iran, Lieberman said Israel has no plans to bomb the country and that the Iranian nuclear program, which is destabilizing the entire region, should chiefly concern Arab countries.

“Nobody will resolve their problems by our hands. We don't need this. Israel is a strong country, and we will be able to defend ourselves,” Lieberman said, explaining Israel’s stance.