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Despite Reconciliation: Mashaal Calls for Armed Struggle

Hamas leader says Arab resistance "in all forms" against Israel is required, will try to convince Fatah to adopt this approach.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 5/9/2011, 4:49 AM / Last Update: 5/9/2011, 4:45 AM

Senior Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal urged the United States and the European Union on Sunday to support the reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.

During an interview he gave to the Reuters News Agency, Mashaal said: “The international position, especially that of the Europeans and the Americans, is still unclear but we hope they respect our will and decision.”

Mashaal also said that the issue of a Palestinian recognition of Israel could only be addressed after an independent Palestinian state is set up.

The Hamas leader also did not waste the opportunity and once again called for a continued armed struggle against the Jewish state.

“What is needed today is to have resistance in all forms, armed and public ones,” he said. He added that he intends to try to persuade Fatah to adopt this approach to force Israel to end its occupation.

“Any occupier in the world never retreats voluntarily,” said Mashaal. “It only retreats under pressure and force.”

Mashaal said that the international community must pressure Israel to recognize the Palestinians and not the other way around.

“Israel needs pressure. It is an occupier that would not get out by conviction or through dialogue,” said Mashaal.

When asked if Hamas was ready to recognize Israel as part of a permanent peace deal, Mashaal said that the Palestinian people should have their own independent state first.

“First allow the Palestinian people to live on their lands freely, to establish their independent state,” he said. “Then ask the Palestinian people, its government and leaders about their position towards Israel.”

Mashaal’s comments to Reuters are similar to ones he made during an interview over the weekend with the Wall Street Journal.

“How to manage the resistance, what’s the best way to achieve our goals, when to escalate and when to cease fire, now we have to agree on all those decisions as Palestinians,” he said.

Mashaal also said that “negotiations with Israel, domestic governance, foreign affairs, domestic security and resistance and other field activities against Israel, would all be reached in consensus between Palestinian factions.”

He added that while Hamas will not attack Israel without prior consent by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, it still has a right to carry arms as part of its struggle against Israel.

Mashaal’s comments came following last week’s signing in Cairo of the reconciliation pact between Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah movement. Under the agreement, an interim unity government will be formed, and preparations are to begin for parliamentary and presidential elections within one year.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has condemned the deal, calling it “a tremendous setback for peace and a great advance for terror.” President Shimon Peres did the same, calling the deal “a fatal mistake” and adding that if implemented, there will be a “continuation of rocket attacks, a continuation of the murder of innocent civilians, and the continuation of Iranian interference that supports and finances terror in our region.”