PA minister in Syria to hold talks with gov't officials

Interior Minister Saeed Siyam says, "Non-recognition of Israel is a constant of Hamas."

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October 14, 2006 01:12
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Palestinian Interior Minister Saeed Siyam arrived Friday in Syria, where he is expected to holds talks with government officials and the exiled Hamas leadership. On arrival, Siyam reiterated that Hamas would not recognize Israel, a sticking point that has blocked efforts to forge a national unity government with the other major Palestinian party, Fatah. "Non-recognition of Israel is a constant of Hamas," Siyam said in a statement on his arrival in Damascus from Iran. "Nobody has the right to demand that Hamas recognize Israel because up to now Israel does not recognize the existence and the rights of the Palestinian people." The exiled leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal, whom Siyam is expected to meet during his Syrian, repeated the party's long-standing refusal to acknowledge Israel's right to exist at a press conference in Damascus on Thursday night. Recognition of Israel is a major demand of the US, the European Union and Israel for lifting sanctions on Hamas, which took over the Palestinian Authority's government after beating Fatah in the January legislative elections. Recognition was also the main element in a failed initiative by Qatar to mediate the ongoing dispute between Hamas and Fatah, the party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. "We want to establish our state, and if the world wants to be fair, it should pressure Israel and not the owners of the right (to a state)," Siyam said. Hamas has not said who Siyam will see during his Syrian visit, but he will undoubtedly meet members of Hamas' exiled leadership and officials of the Syrian government, which has long withstood US pressure to evict the leaders of Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups.

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