"Hamas is a terrorist organization and must be treated as such." In media statements over the weekend, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni outlined Israel’s response to the invitation extended on Thursday (9 February 2006) by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Hamas leaders to visit Moscow.
 
In a press statement Friday, the minister said: "Hamas is a terrorist organization and must be treated as such." She added that "the decision by the Quartet, of which Russia is a member, sets preliminary conditions which must be met if the Palestinian Authority is to be able to achieve legitimacy. These conditions are fundamental and basic and are not negotiable, and the Palestinians must accept them unequivocally, just as they are."
 
In its meeting following the Palestinian elections (30 January, 2006), the Quartet declared : “It is the view of the Quartet that all members of a future Palestinian government must be committed to nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Roadmap.”
 
IAt Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting, FM Livni warned that the Hamas invitation is liable to lead to a "slippery slope” scenario, by which this terrorist organization would function in two tracks, employing a ‘political arm’, which would work to establish a technocratic Palestinian government, while still retaining its ‘terrorist arm’, dedicated to violence against Israel. Thus, Hamas plans to gain legitimcy in the eyes of the international community without meeting any of the preliminary conditions set out by world leaders.
 
In an interview Sunday on Israel Radio, FM Livni explained that the international community would encounter the Hamas "slippery slope” as soon as it engages in dialogue with it. “Once it begins, the world will be pressured to show understanding for the Hamas Palestinian government, then convinced to extend monetary assistance, and finally be forced to grant it legitimacy – and this is certainly a phenomenon we must work against."
 
"The message that I want to convey," she continued, "is that the very holding of elections cannot whitewash terrorism, but just the opposite: An authority or entity or state that is led by a terrorist organization becomes a terrorist state.”
 
In an interview Sunday with IDF Radio, FM Livni pointed out an additional danger: "The most problematic situation will be if they [Hamas] continue to perpetrate terrorism while at the same time running the educational system. We’re not just talking about daily terrorist attacks; they will also be teaching this ideology to the children."