Hamas leader to Jewish paper: No peace with Israel

April 20, 2012 - 5:46 AM

JERUSALEM (AP) — A Hamas leader said Thursday that if his militant group came to power in a future Palestinian state, it would not abide by any previous Palestinian peace deals with Israel.

Moussa Abu Marzouk, the Islamic militant group's number two figure, said any potential deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, even if ratified in a Palestinian referendum, would be considered only as a temporary truce.

"We will not recognize Israel as a state," he told the Jewish Daily Forward, a Jewish-American newspaper in an interview published Thursday. It was the first such interview by a senior Hamas leader to a Jewish publication. Israeli newspapers reported it on Friday.

Hamas has ruled Gaza since expelling rival Fatah forces in 2007. The Palestinian Authority, headed by Fatah's Mahmoud Abbas, rules parts of the West Bank.

Abu Marzouk's remarks emphasized the doctrinaire position of the Islamic militant group's exiled leadership, ruling out accommodation with Israel. Some local Hamas figures have hinted they would accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza as a first stage toward the eventual elimination of Israel.

Some see that as a way for Hamas to finesse its official position, which does not recognize a place for a Jewish state in an Islamic Middle East.

The U.S., EU and Israel consider Hamas a terror organization. They say they will not accept Hamas as a Palestinian political player unless it first recognizes Israel, renounces violence and accept previous peace accords with Israel.

Hamas, an Arabic acronym which means Islamic Resistance Movement, has carried out suicide bombings and other attacks against Israeli citizens and soldiers, killing hundreds. Palestinian militants have fired thousands of rockets and mortars at Israel since Hamas took power in Gaza.

An editor of the Jewish Daily Forward wrote that he met with Abu Marzouk in Cairo. The Hamas leadership left its longtime base in Syria because of the unrest there.

"Why am I here?" Larry Cohler-Esses of the Forward asked Abu Marzouk at the beginning of the interview.

"We don't have ... something against the Jew as a religion or against the Jew as a human being," Abu Marzouk said. "The problem is that the Israelis kicked out my family. They have occupied my land and injured thousands of Palestinians."

The Hamas leader alluded to the Nazi murder of 6 million Jews during World War II. He said what happened to Jews in Germany and Poland was "very bad" and that "anyone (whose) father or grandfather did something like that, he should be ashamed."

Hamas has traditionally refrained from acknowledging the Holocaust and has protested against the subject being taught in U.N.-run schools in Gaza.

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