GAZA, (Reuters) – Hamas said on Friday it would never recognise Israel and will not, as a movement, abide by previously reached Palestinian peace accords with Israel as urged by President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah. “We will never recognise Israel. There is nothing called Israel, neither in reality nor in the imagination,” Nizar Rayyan, a senior Hamas leader in Gaza, told Reuters.
Rayyan welcomed the unity government agreement reached in Mecca but said that Hamas shunned Abbas’s call for Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who will form the new cabinet, to abide by previous peace accords. “We, in the Hamas movement, will not abide by anything,” he said.
The comments were endorsed by Hamas spokesman Ismail Rudwan, who said: “The recognition is not an option at all, is not discussable.”
Palestinians hope the unity government deal will bring an end to factional fighting between Hamas and Fatah and lead Western powers to lift sanctions on the Hamas-led Palestinian government.
The Quartet of Middle East mediators — the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations — has demanded that the Hamas-led government renounce violence, recognise Israel and abide by interim peace deals.
The agreement reached in Mecca calls for the new government to “respect” previous agreement. Rudwan said this means “the government will respect them (the agreements) in the way that fulfils the interests of our people.”
The term “respect” falls short from a commitment and would allow Hamas to pick and choose from these accords, analysts said.