zahar rally 298.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Hamas spoke openly for the first time Saturday about the possibility of forming the next Palestinian government after this month's parliamentary elections.
Hamas is expected to deliver a major drubbing to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party, which has dominated Palestinian politics for four decades, but has fallen into disfavor because of corruption and lawlessness on Palestinian streets. But in the past, Hamas has never said straight out that it might agree to form a government.
During a visit to families of people killed or taken prisoner in the past five years of conflict with Israel, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar was asked if the atmosphere were ripe for Hamas to form a government that wouldn't deal with Israel, Hamas reported on its Web site.
"Yes. We are running for the Legislative Council to put an end to the vestiges of Oslo," Zahar said, referring to the Oslo peace accords between Israel and the Palestinians of the early 1990s.
Zahar's visit to these families was part of the group's campaign swing.
The elections are scheduled for Jan. 25, but there are pressures on Abbas to postpone them for a second time because of the strong Hamas pressure. Abbas has said the balloting could be put off if Israel bars Palestinians from voting in the sector of Jerusalem the Palestinians want as their future capital.
It is unlikely Abbas would postpone the election without Hamas' consent.
"President Abbas will lose his credibility if he postpones the elections," Zahar said. "Anyone who blocks the elections will lose. The elections will take place."
Zahar also restated Hamas' threat to kidnap IDF soldiers as a bargaining chip to pressure Israel to release Palestinian prisoners.