The Kremlin is changing its position. “Hamas Political Bureau Director Khaled Mashal is not welcome in Moscow,” a government official told the Israeli Ma’ariv daily, “if he wishes, Mashal can visit as a tourist and even go to Red Square, but not have any state meetings.”

Relations between Russia and Hamas have cooled in the last few months.

“In wake of the Kremlin’s disappointment over Hamas’ behavior,” the source explained.

In the background stands Russia’s failure to get Hamas to accept the Quartet’s three conditions: forswear terror, recognize Israel and recognize previous agreements.

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“Our main disappointment in Hamas is that it is not willing to recognize Israel’s right to exist,” said the source.

In the second half of 2008, Mr. Mashal asked at least twice to meet with officials in Moscow, but was turned down. The last time Mr. Mashal went to Moscow was in early 2006 when he was welcomed with great honor at the Kremlin, despite criticism from Israel and the U.S.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told his Israeli counterparts in his visit this week to Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) that Hamas would not be invited to the peace conference that Russia is planning in a few months.

“Only those who attended Annapolis will take part,” Mr. Lavrov said, in a direct message to Hamas.

Officials in Jerusalem are pleased by the Russian position.

They said, “Russia has been trying for some time to moderate Hamas, to no avail, and they are frustrated.” They said, “Russia has failed time after time in its attempt to persuade Hamas to agree either to little things or big things, such as the Egyptian compromise proposal last December on the ‘tahdia’ (quieting) or Egyptian attempts to reconciliate (sic) the Palestinian factions.”

However, there is not a complete break and Russia continues to maintain channels of dialogue with Hamas. High-ranking Russian government sources have met frequently with Mr. Mashal in Damascus in the course of visits to the region.

These have included Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Sultanov.

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

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