JERUSALEM — Israel's deputy prime minister said Saturday that Israel should assassinate Hamas' leadership, ignore the moderate Palestinian Authority president and walk away from international peace efforts.
Avigdor Lieberman's comments came as the rival Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, continued talks on forming a unity government. President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah hopes a coalition deal would enable him to revive peace efforts with Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said he remains committed to the U.S.-backed peace plan, which envisions an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. Lieberman's statements "don't reflect Israeli policy," said Olmert spokeswoman Miri Eisin on Saturday.
Speaking to Israel Radio, Lieberman said he believed the Palestinians were not interested in setting up their own state, but rather in destroying Israel.
Hamas lawmaker Mushir Masri said any attack on the group's leaders would trigger retaliation. The group has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings in the last six years.