Israel has dismissed Russian president Dmitry Medvedev's call to include Hamas in the peace process. The Russian leader met with Khaled Meshaal, the Hamas chief, in Damascus late Tuesday. The Russian president urged Hamas to work on a reconciliation deal with Fatah, and insisted that "no one" should be excluded from the Middle East peace process, according to his spokeswoman.
The Israeli foreign ministry responded with a stern statement, which compared Meshaal to Shamil Basayev - the Chechen rebel leader killed by Russian special forces in 2006 - and labelled Hamas a "terrorist organization". "Israel always stood behind Russia in its fight against Chechen terrorism, and would have expected similar treatment regarding Hamas terrorism against Israel," the statement said.
The Tel Aviv-based newspaper Ha'aretz reported on Thursday that the Medvedev-Meshaal meeting "came as a surprise in Israel".