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Al-Qaida's number two accused Hamas of selling out by agreeing to respect past peace deals with Israel, according to an audio recording broadcast Sunday by Al-Jazeera satellite channel.
Ayman al-Zawahri lashed out at the group for making its most concrete commitment to a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict when it agreed in February during a meeting in Saudi Arabia to "respect" earlier peace deals with Israel.
In his criticisms, Zawahri condemned Hamas for working with the United States - calling it "the American devil" - and Saudi Arabia, which he described as an American "agent."
The Qatar-based television channel broadcast the message just minutes before Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas finished a meeting - their second in a month.
Zawahri's recording was broadcast just weeks ahead of a summit later in March Saudi Arabia that is expected to relaunch a 2002 Saudi initiative for peace with Israel.
"Hamas went on a picnic with the American devil and its Saudi Agent," Zawahri said.
"The Jews have realized the true weight of those governments after most of them had recognized or expressed their readiness to recognize Israel," Zawahri said.
He mocked Saudi King Abdullah, who proposed the Arab peace plan in 2002 when he was crown prince, calling it the "initiative that was dictated to him by the Jewish Thomas Friedman which Arabs are begging Israel to accept." Friedman, a columnist for the New York Times, often writes about Middle East affairs.
Calling the Hamas-led Cabinet a "farcical government," Zawahri lashed out at its leadership saying it had "sold out Palestine, and before, it gave up on ruling by Sharia (Islamic law)." It gave up all of this "in order to be allowed to keep a third of government (seats)," he said referring to the power-sharing agreement.
"I'm sorry to face the Islamic community with the painful truth, to offer condolences for the leadership of Hamas ... Hamas has fallen in the swamp of surrender," Zawahri said.
Hamas has made a "mockery of Muslims minds and feelings" by saying that the accord reached in Mecca respects international agreements, Zawahri said. "What is happening in Palestine is another form of humiliation."
"Today, in the time of deals, the leadership of Hamas has given up most of Palestine to the Jews ... Hamas's leadership has finally caught (late Egyptian President Anwar) Sadat's train of humiliation and surrender."
Zawahri also condemned recent Israeli excavations near the Temple Mount and the Aksa Mosque that aimed to prepare for an access ramp to the area.
"Israel is attacking al-Aksa Mosque shrine and all the so called Arab and Islamic governments do is scream and condemn," he said. The excavations provoked emotional reactions among Muslims, for whom al-Aksa is the third holiest shrine.
Al-Jazeera did not say how it obtained the audio recording and its authenticity could not be immediately verified. Excerpts broadcast were no longer than 10 minutes.
The recording appeared to have been made no earlier than last month because of its references to talks in Saudi Arabia.
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