Send Hamas leaders 'to paradise': Israeli deputy PM

Israel's hawkish Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman says Hamas leaders should be killed and Israel must ignore international peace efforts while shoring up its military response to the Palestinians.

Leaders of the Hamas militant movement should be assassinated and moderate Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is "irrelevant," Israel's deputy prime minister said Saturday.

The comments by Avigdor Lieberman came as the rival Palestinian factions, Hamas and Abbas's Fatah, continued talks on forming a unity government.

The leaders of Hamas, which won parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories last January, should be "sent to paradise," Lieberman told Israel radio, "all of them.On this there should be no compromise."

He also called for Israel to ignore international pressure efforts to resume peace negotiations with the Palestinians, and said his country should abandon earlier agreements under the Oslo accords and the "road map" to peace promoted by U.S. President George Bush.

Both call for a separate Palestinian state that exists alongside a secure Israel.

"A continuation of Oslo, of the road map … will lead us to another round of conflict," Lieberman said, "a much more bloody round, and in the end to an even deeper deadlock, and it threatens our future."

Abbas scorned

He called Abbas a weak, ineffective leader who should be spurned by Israel while tougher military action is taken to prevent rocket attacks from Gaza.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Lieberman's views were not shared by other members of the cabinet.

"His comments are his own," said Miri Eisin, "They do not reflect Israeli policy."

Lieberman, the newest member of Olmert's cabinet, is head of the right- wing Yisrael Beitenu party and is known for hardline views on almost all of Israel's security issues.

Lieberman was born in the former Soviet republic of Moldova and is popular among members of Israel's increasingly influential Russian Jewish community.