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In an unusual move, a Hamas leader-in-exile, Deputy Chief Musa Abu Marzook, was interviewed Monday on an Israeli radio station.
"There's no doubt about our realistic recognition of Israel, that Israel exists, and there is no signing of agreements with an imaginary body - only with one that exists," Abu Marzuk told the Jerusalem-based Radio All For Peace in a phone call from Damascus. "The problem is not regarding this and this is not what is being demanded of Hamas. Our problem is the demand to recognize the legitimacy of the occupation - and we will not agree to that."
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Abu Marzook also hinted at some possible flexibility in his party's position. "We are facing changes and every movement will make changes according to the reality," he said. "But there are three principles we will not compromise on: government according to the laws of the sharia
(Islamic law), our right to live in Palestine, and our right to resist the occupation."
Abu Marzook also railed against Western donors. "A Hamas government was democratically chosen by the Palestinian people, and the world must accept the people's choice," he told radio presenter Ziyad Darwish. "Indeed, one of the goals of the US is to spread democracy, and it is prohibited from punishing the Palestinians for choosing Hamas."
In the radio interview, the first that the station held with a Hamas leader abroad, Abu Marzook was asked why his party would not negotiate with Israel.
"We as Palestinians have tried to go in the path of negotiations, without any use," he said. "The PLO recognized Israel, but that is an internal issue of the PLO and does not oblige the Palestinian Authority. The world needs to differentiate between the PLO and the PA. The PA does not necessarily need to recognize Israel," he said.
Radio All For Peace is run by Givaat Haviva with the aim of bringing voices not normally heard to the airwaves "in order to create a full picture of what happens outside," said its co-director, Shimon Malka.
The radio station has programs in English, Hebrew and Arabic.
Malka was pleased with the interview. "This was a fantastic success. It is the first time we spoke with the leadership abroad," he said. "Because we are a mixed group of Israelis and Palestinians, we have access to people that other Israeli media does not."