CAIRO - Hamas leader in Damascus Khaled Mashaal urged the United States and the European Union on Sunday to support a reconciliation deal that ended a four-year rift with Fatah, saying the accord was the Palestinian people's choice.
Mashaal told Reuters in an interview that the issue of Palestinian recognition of Israel could only be addressed after an independent state was set up in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
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"The international position, especially that of the Europeans and the Americans, is still unclear but we hope they respect our will and decision," Mashaal said.
"This is an internal Palestinian issue that no one should delay or place conditions on."
Mashaal was in Cairo to attend a ceremony hosted by
Egypt that formally ended four years of strife between Hamas and Fatah.
Israel has condemned the Egyptian-brokered accord because of the
inclusion of Hamas, whose founding charter calls for the Jewish state's
destruction, and as a protest has blocked the transfer of $105 million
in customs duties and other levies it collects on behalf of Mahmoud Abbas's
The United States has voiced reservations, saying it was important that
the Palestinians ensure implementation of the deal in a way that
advances the prospects of peace. Israel has said the accord advances the
agenda of terrorism, not peace.
The deal calls for forming an interim government to run the West Bank,
where Fatah is based, and the Hamas-led Gaza Strip, and prepare for
long-overdue parliamentary and presidential elections within a year.
The United States and the European Union have boycotted Hamas,
predicating any ties on Hamas first recognizing Israel, renouncing
violence and accepting interim peace deals signed by Abbas's Palestine
Liberation Organization with Israel.
"We are waiting for action from the Europeans and the Americans that
would support our position and to not interfere," Mashaal said.
Palestinians regard US and EU support as crucial for their independence
cause due to their unparalleled geopolitical and financial clout. They
provide a significant share of the Palestinian Authority's funding.
'Israel needs pressure'
Mashaal said the international community must pressure Israel to recognize the Palestinians, not the other way around.
"Israel needs pressure. It is an occupier that would not get out by
conviction or through dialogue," Mashaal said, adding that Egypt was
only able to enter into peace talks with Israel after the 1973
Middle East war.
"What is needed today ... is to have resistance in all forms, armed and
public ones," he said adding that he intends to try to persuade Fatah to
adopt his approach to force Israel to end its occupation. "Any occupier
in the world never retreats voluntarily ... It only retreats under
pressure and force."
Asked if Hamas was ready to recognize Israel as part of a permanent
peace deal, Mashaal said the Palestinian people should have their own
independent state first.
"First allow the Palestinian people to live on their lands freely ... to
establish their independent state ... then ask the Palestinian people,
its government and leaders about their position toward Israel," he said.