Hamas will focus on holding Arab Spring-style mass protests against Israel but is not renouncing the use of violence against the Jewish state, leader Khaled Mashaal told The Associated Press late Thursday.
Mashaal told the news agency that popular protests have “the power of a tsunami,” pointing to the recent waves of demonstrations across the Arab world.
“Now we have a common ground that we can work on — the popular resistance, which presents the power of people,” he added.
Mashaal also gave rare Hamas public support to the idea of a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and east Jerusalem.
The interview with AP took place in Cairo after Mashaal’s meeting with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. During that meeting Hamas agreed to join the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
Mashaal told AP Hamas would not renounce its own armed fight against Israel, saying, “As long as there is an occupation on our land, we have the right to defend our land by all means, including military resistance.”
He added that Hamas would be prepared to accept a Palestinian state alongside Israel inside what are known as the “1967 borders” [1949 armistice lines –ed.]. He said that Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah faction “have political differences, but the common ground is the state on the ‘67 borders. Why don’t we work in this common area.”
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev dismissed Mashaal’s statements, however, saying Hamas has repeatedly said it seeks Israel’s destruction.
“Hamas is very open and public about its position — it believes the Jewish state should be obliterated, it fundamentally opposes peace and reconciliation, and it sees every Israeli civilian as a legitimate target,” Regev told AP. “One cannot build policy upon wishful thinking.”
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)