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Erekat: Hamas Isn't a Terrorist Group

PA's chief negotiator claims Hamas is a "legitimate political organization" and not a terrorist group.
By Nir Har Zahav and Elad Benari
First Publish: 5/9/2014, 1:16 AM

Saeb Erekat
Saeb Erekat
Flash 90

Hamas is a legitimate organization and does not carry out terrorist attacks, the Palestinian Authority (PA) chief negotiator claimed on Thursday.

Speaking on the Arabic-language A-Shams radio station, Saeb Erekat said, "Hamas is a political Palestinian movement, which is not a terrorist movement. We will resolve the dispute with it at the ballot box instead of using arms."

The comments come several weeks after Hamas and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement signed a unity deal which calls for elections to take place within the next six months. The PA’s Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has already offered to step down to pave the way for a unity government.

Israel responded to the deal by pulling out of the talks and by implementing  sanctions on the PA.

Earlier Thursday, Nabil Shaath, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and a close confidant of Abbas, said the PA wants to renew peace talks.

Speaking at a conference of the far-left Meretz party in Tel Aviv, Shaath claimed, "We are interested in renewing the talks."

He clarified that "there are topics that are open for negotiations, and they are the core issues, while on the other hand there are topics that are not up for negotiations: the Palestinians' right of self-definition in the 1967 borders, and the right of unity in the Palestinian nation."

Hamas for its part continues to be adamant over its control of a "unity" government, expressing over and over again that it would remain in control of both Gaza and the PA-held areas after elections, and insisting that Ismail Haniyeh would rule the government. 

The group also insists that it will never recognize Israel and its charter calls for Israel’s destruction. On Thursday, a video was released from a children’s program on Hamas's official TV channel in which viewers were encouraged to "kill the Jews".

During the show, called "Pioneers of Tomorrow", young children are interviewed by a young presenter and her "bumblebee" co-host and encouraged to carry out a variety of violent attacks.

Earlier this week, to mark Israel's Independence Day, Hamas released an animate video which featured an "alternative" to Israel's Hatikva national anthem, which called for the ethnic-cleansing of Israel's Jewish population.