The president of Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams, has refused to heed Israeli demands that he not meet with Hamas officials when he visits the Middle East next week.

And because Adams won’t give these assurances, Israeli officials have said that they will not meet him.

“I will meet with senior members of the Palestinian Authority. I again (as in 2006) asked for a meeting with the Israeli government or with government officials,” Adams told the Press Association. “But again this has been refused because I will not give a commitment not to speak with Hamas representatives.”

Speaking about Adams’ visit, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor, told the Jerusalem Post: "We expect all dignitaries who come here to make it clear that they will not dignify Hamas with a meeting."

“I very much regret the Israeli government decision,” Adams said, adding that he was the leader of party that was once censored and demonized and whose members were killed.

He stressed that dialogue between all sides was key to building a successful peace process, and called on both sides to work towards an agreement.

“So I will meet with all sides and urge all sides to end all armed actions and to engage in meaningful dialogue. I believe there should be a complete cessation of all hostilities and freedom of movement for everyone,” the Sinn Fein leader said.

“This requires a sustainable and durable state for the Palestinian people. They share the region with their Israeli neighbors. Without doubt, the security of the people of Israel is linked inextricably to the rights, freedom and prosperity of the people of Palestine.

“They can co-exist peacefully together. I am certain about that.”

He said that while there were both similarities between the conflict in Israel and Palestine, and between Northern Ireland, there were also significant differences, and called on “the international community, and particularly the USA, to play a very positive and active role,” in bringing about a peaceful solution to the conflict.

In 2006, Adams visited both Israel and the Palestinian town of Ramallah. While there he laid a wreath at the tomb of the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat. On this forthcoming visit, however, he is to visit Gaza, which was bombarded by the Israeli defense forces earlier in the year, in response to Palestinian rocket attacks.