A-Zahar rejects 'satanic' US aid

Promises Hamas will use education to promote a 'culture of resistance.'

mahmoud zahar 298.88 (photo credit: CNN)
mahmoud zahar 298.88
(photo credit: CNN)
Hamas leader Mahmoud A-Zahar vowed Monday not to bow to American threats to cut aid, saying the movement did not need "satanic" US money. A-Zahar also addressed Hamas' much-anticipated social and economic agenda, saying the group intended to fight corruption, eliminate the "tourism of nudity" and use education to promote a culture of resistance.
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But, aware of the political realities in the Palestinian territories, Zahar said Hamas had no intention to force Islam on Palestinians or to settle scores with its rivals. "Those who built their structure on the basis of the Quran...cannot budge because of promises from America or a dollar from Europe," Zahar told a Cairo conference. "I wish America would cut off its aid. We do not need this satanic money," he said. Since Hamas' victory in last month's parliamentary elections, Western nations have threatened to cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in badly needed aid unless the group, which is responsible for dozens of suicide bombings that have killed hundreds of Israelis, transforms itself. Hamas was expected to lead a new government. "America and Europe tried to dry up the funding of the 'terrorist' Hamas that is spent on the families of the martyrs and the detainees, but it (Hamas) has only increased," he said. Such money comes from almsgiving, he said. He argued that most of the outside aid money was eaten up by corruption under Fatah and lost funds could be made up by removing corrupt officials and turning to Arab donors. He ruled out making compromises to keep the money coming. "Recognizing the state of the Israeli enemy is not on the table," he said. "Our program is to liberate Palestine, all of Palestine," he said. "The Qassam Brigades will continue to increase in numbers, supplies and weapons...until the liberation is completed," he said of the group's military wing. He added that Hamas can develop the capabilities of its missiles. "Anyone who thinks the calm means giving in is mistaken. The calm is in preparation for a new round of resistance and victory," he said. "If the enemy has something to offer we will study it, but we will not abide by a truce that is for free." Hamas abided by an Egyptian-brokered truce between the Palestinians and Israel, and has continued to forgo militant attacks beyond the agreement's expiration late last year. He also again rejected the 1993 Oslo peace accords under which the Palestinians recognized Israel and set up the Palestinian Authority. "We are entering (parliament) to eliminate any traces of Oslo," he said. But Zahar called for making a distinction between bestowing legitimacy on Israel and recognizing the facts on the ground. He left the door open for possible future talks with Israel through a third party. "Negotiations are not our goal," he said. "Negotiations are a means. If they realize the best interest of the Palestinian people, then we will find a thousand mediators...to negotiate," he said.