Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hamas rejects calls to recognize Israel


Hamas rejected a call by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Islamic group to recognize the state of Israel, and said her request was unacceptable to the Palestinians, Army Radio reported on Saturday afternoon.

Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan reportedly said that the group will not recognize Israel nor comply with the conditions set by the Quartet. On Friday, Clinton was quoted as saying that the Egyptian-brokered efforts to bring about reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah will only work if the group recognizes Israel.

AFP cited a Voice of America radio report which quoted Clinton as saying "I believe that it's important, if there is some reconciliation and a move toward a unified authority, that it's very clear that Hamas knows the conditions that have been set forth by the quartet, by the Arab summit."

Representatives of both Hamas and Fatah attended reconciliation talks in Cairo on Wednesday and Thursday. Previous reconciliation talks fell apart in November 2008 when Hamas pulled out at the last minute after a dispute with Fatah over releasing Hamas prisoners.

"They must renounce violence, recognize Israel, and abide by previous commitments, she said of Hamas, "otherwise, I don't think it will result in the kind of positive step forward either for the Palestinian people or as a vehicle for a reinvigorated effort to obtain peace that leads to a Palestinian state."

Clinton is set to arrive in the Middle East on Monday, where she will attend a summit in Egypt on reconstructing Gaza after Operation Cast Lead against Hamas terrorists. She will then visit Jerusalem on her first official visit in her new position.

Regarding US contribution to Palestinians in the Strip, the secretary of state was quoted as saying, "I will be announcing a commitment to a significant aid package, but it will only be spent if we determine that our goals can be furthered rather than undermined or subverted."

AP contributed to this report.
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