Hamas rejects Abbas' call to negotiate with Israel

Hamas on Saturday rejected Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' demand that they back his moderate policies, including negotiations with Israel. Earlier Saturday, Abbas had asked Hamas to form the next government, after the new Hamas-dominated parliament was sworn in. In his speech, Abbas said the next government must recognize existing peace agreements and commit to peace negotiations as the "sole ... strategic choice" of the Palestinians. Negotiations with Israel are "not on our agenda," said Mushir al-Masri, a leading Hamas legislator. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that the group "rejects negotiations with the occupation, especially since [Israel] still practices collective punishment against our people."