Mahmoud Zahar: No Hamas plans to recognize Israel

Mahmoud Zahar, a top Hamas leader said Friday that they had no immediate plans to change its policy and recognize Israel despite its victory in Palestinian Authority elections this week. "Why we are going to recognize Israel? Why? Is Israel ready to recognize the right of return for Palestinian people? Is Israel ready to recognize an independent (Palestinian) state, including Jerusalem?" asked Mahmoud Zahar, an incoming Hamas parliamentarian and one of the group's top leaders in Gaza. "We (will) not recognize anybody on the expense of our national interest." Zahar added that a Hamas government had no plans to pursue peace talks with Israel, though it could change its mind if Israel was willing to make large concessions. "Israel has nothing to give for the Palestinians. All the time they were wasting our time ... implementing nothing," he said. "If the Israelis have something to fulfill the basic demand of the Palestinian people concerning the occupied territories, detainees, question of Jerusalem, our national interests, we are going to re-evaluate this argument."