Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal said Friday that recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded the Palestinian Authority do in peace talks, will hurt Palestinian refugees and Israeli-Arabs. He added that Israel fears the next generation of Palestinians.
PM: Palestinians must relax conditions / Attila Somfalvi
Netanyahu tells his advisors in closed talks, 'Everyone knows that moderate and restrained construction in Judea and Samaria in the coming year will not affect the peace map.' Meanwhile, Likud officials say will back extension in settlement freeze in exchange for 'significant' US incentive package
Speaking at a mass Hamas-sponsored wedding in which 700 couples were married in Damascus, Mashaal said adopting a solely diplomatic track is "one of the biggest mistakes".
Ma'an news agency also quoted the leader as saying that Palestinian leadership was "drowning in politics".
Mashaal added that politics ought to be laid aside for the benefit of "resistance and jihad that come from within society".
"Family is the central structure of Palestinian society and the occupation fears the next generation. They fear our people in Gaza and the West Bank as well as those living in the territories conquered in 1948. They are preparing their schemes after failing to break them," he said.
Meanwhile, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said following a meeting between US envoy George Mitchell and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the Palestinians expected Israel to choose the path of peace rather than the path of settlements. "These are two parallels which cannot meet," he explained.
Palestinian Authority officials estimated Friday that the Palestinian Liberation Organization's Executive Committee would approve a return to direct negotiations with Israel, as long as the parties reached a formula to continue the settlement construction freeze.
According to the sources, Mitchell told the Palestinians that the Israelis were willing to halt construction in isolated settlements in exchanged for accepted construction in the settlement blocs.