(photo credit: REUTERS)
Exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal on Friday blamed the recent wave of Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and warned that it could lead to "an open conflict - a bloodbath."
Speaking to Sky News from his base in Qatar, Mashaal said Netanyahu was "playing with fire" by granting right-wing activists entrance to the disputed Temple Mount compound.
Access to the contested holy site in Jerusalem has stood as a centerpiece in the rise of tensions following the summer's seven-week war between Israel and Hamas.
The Hamas leader attempted to validate the increase of violent attacks as the result of the loss of hope on the Palestinian side for a "just solution" to the decades-long Middle East conflict.
"The Israeli stubbornness, combined with the international impotence in solving the Palestinian issue with a just solution, which gives the Palestinian people their self-determination, and gets rid of occupation [Israel] … will lead to chaos in the region, not just in the Palestinian arena, but to an open conflict - a bloodbath," he told Sky News.
He added that Hamas would maintain its policy of "armed resistance" so long as as an independent Palestinian state is established along the pre-1967 lines, which includes a capital in east Jerusalem.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad have called for Palestinians to carry out more "operations" against Israelis, especially in Jerusalem, in protest of the Jewish state and as a said way of defending the al-Aksa Mosque
Mashaal also placed blame on Netanyahu for the yet-unreconciled Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and denied that the internal rift between his Hamas faction and its rival Fatah hold any responsibility for the so-far failed attempts to reach a lasting peace.
Turning to the international community, Mashaal commended it for its "impotence in solving the Palestinian issue." However, he hailed as "excellent developments," the French and British parliament's for their recent votes in favor of symbolic motions to recognize a Palestinian state.