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Beilin: Gov't must reach deal with Hamas before Mideast summit

By Lisa Zilberpriver, Ha'aretz.com, 10.08.07

Meretz Chairman Yossi Beilin said Thursday it is vital Israel reach an agreement with Hamas, directly or indirectly, before the Middle East summit scheduled for this coming fall, otherwise Gaza may "explode."
Beilin, speaking at a Jerusalem conference held by the Geneva Initiative and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung on the Geneva Convention, said a cease-fire negotiated with Hamas would include it taking responsibility for a total cessation of Qassam fire.
"Hamas have said they are capable of stopping Qassam fire on Israel, and I believe they can," he said.
"If they're ready to talk to us, we should talk to them," he added.
In order to reach an agreement with Hamas, Beilin said negotiations must focus on crossings, in order not to deprive Gazans of vital income during the flower export season beginning November. Beilin stressed that every day another sector goes bankrupt in the strip.
"I believe decision makers on both sides think that Hamas will sit back and watch a peace agreement on television," he said.
While Beilin stressed the importance of talking to Hamas, Palestinian Authority Minister for Prisoner Affairs Ashraf Al-Ajrami said that the PA has the Palestinian people's mandate to reach an agreement with Israel.
"Hamas will not be able to deny the desires of the Palestinian people," he said.