Associated France Press (AP) 23/9/2006
Palestinian PM Won't Recognize Israel
By DIAA HADID
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip Sep 22, 2006 (AP)— Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas said Friday he will not head a government that recognizes Israel, striking a potential blow to President Mahmoud Abbas' attempts to create a national unity government.
Haniyeh spoke a day after Abbas indicated at the United Nations that a coalition government of Hamas and Abbas' Fatah movement would recognize the Jewish state.
"I personally will not head any government that recognizes Israel," Haniyeh said in a mosque sermon in Gaza City, laying out his group's position in coalition talks with Abbas.
However, Haniyeh said Hamas is ready to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem areas Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast War and to honor a long-term truce with Israel.
"We support establishing a Palestinian state in the land of 1967 at this stage, but in return for a cease-fire, not recognition," Haniyeh said.
Abbas was still in New York and couldn't be immediately reached for comment on Haniyeh's remarks. A close adviser, Nabil Amr, clarified that the Palestinian president would not ask Hamas to explicitly recognize Israel, but to abide by Palestine Liberation Organization agreements that recognize the Jewish state.
"We expect Hamas to agree to this," Amr said.
Hamas, which swept Palestinian parliamentary elections in January, currently rules alone. But Abbas, elected separately last year, has been toiling for months to broaden the government in the hope of easing crushing international sanctions imposed on the Hamas-led government to force it to soften its violent anti-Israel ideology.
Last week, the two sides announced they would govern together, and strive to establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel an objective that implies recognition of the Jewish state.
But coalition talks have faltered because the West and Israel have balked at restoring hundreds of millions of dollars in funding until Hamas clearly states its willingness to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept existing peace agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.