Hamas opts for war, not peace, on Gaza policy

Special to WorldTribune.com

GAZA CITY — Hamas has rejected a proposal to halt its war against

A Hamas leader said the Islamic movement has deemed unfeasible a
proposal by the rival Fatah to end attacks from the Gaza Strip. Hamas leader
Mahmoud Zahar said Fatah’s proposal for what was termed “peaceful
resistance” could apply only in the West Bank, controlled by Israel and the
Palestinian Authority.

Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Zahar, seen here desecrating Israel's national flag, confirmed earlier this month there is no Israeli occupation of Gaza.

“We only discussed that as a slogan,” Zahar said. “Against whom could we demonstrate in the Gaza Strip? When Gaza was occupied, that model was applicable.”

In an interview with the Palestinian news agency Maan on Jan. 3, Zahar said no agreement with Fatah has been reached regarding policy toward Israel. Zahar, deemed the most powerful political figure in the Gaza Strip, said the pro-democracy campaigns in such Arab states as Egypt, Syria and Tunisia would be ineffective against the Jewish state.

“Egypt got rid of the British occupation with weapons,” Zahar said. “Since we are resisting occupation, we should use all means including armed resistance.”

In May 2011, Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Masha’al was said to have agreed to adopt a non-violent struggle against Israel as part of a reconciliation deal with Fatah. Fatah said Masha’al reaffirmed that
commitment during a meeting with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in November.

The reported agreement unleashed a Hamas backlash, including criticism
of Masha’al by Zahar. In response, Masha’al was said to have removed Zahar
from Hamas negotiations with both Fatah and Israel.

Fatah and Hamas have also aimed to set presidential and legislative
elections for May 2012. Zahar expressed confidence that Hamas would win a
sweeping victory, but doubted whether Fatah would agree to any joint
political platform.

“The most important thing is to have a united political agenda,” Zahar
said. “We should agree on whether we want all kinds of resistance, or just
limit it to rallies and waving flags.”

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