Hamas official backtracks after saying group should 'recognize Israel'

Mousa Abu Marzook says in earlier interview that Hamas would have to follow the PLO's stance on Israel's existence in order to head Palestinian Authority in the future and end internal Palestinian divide

Senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzook on Thursday released a statement backtracking on earlier comments that the Islamist group should recognize Israel's existence in order to end the internal Palestinian conflict with the PLO.
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"There is a misunderstanding," Abu Marzook said. "I therefore confirm that Hamas does not recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation and does not concede any of the rights of our Palestinian people. We confirm that the resistance will continue to liberation and return," he said.
In an interview with Al-Monitor earlier in the week, Abu Marzook said Hamas should "follow the official stance that the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) has recognized the state of Israel.”
Abu Marzook, the deputy head of Hamas’ politburo, primarily operates interchangeably between Damascus and Cairo. He has lived in the United States for 14 years and was arrested in 1994 for supporting terrorism. Two years later, he was deported and moved to Jordan, then to Syria, and again to Cairo in 2012.
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Mousa Abu Marzook
Mousa Abu Marzook
Mousa Abu Marzook
(Photo: Reuters)
According to the German Bild newspaper, he is estimated to have a fortune of $2 billion. According to the Israeli Embassy in the United States, he currently holds $3 billion. During the ongoing war, his brother Youssef was killed in an IDF airstrike in Rafah.
Since Hamas’ October 7 massacre, Abu Marzook drew criticism when, in an interview with RT in Arabic, he said that the underground tunnels built in Gaza are intended to protect Hamas, not the Gazans inside of the Strip. "It is the UN’s responsibility of the UN to protect them," he said.
"Many people ask why we built 500 km of tunnels and not shelters where civilians can hide during the bombings. We built the tunnels because there’s no other way to protect ourselves from being targeted and killed. These tunnels are meant to protect us from the fighter jets. We fight from them," he added.
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Mousa Abu Marzook
Mousa Abu Marzook
Mousa Abu Marzook
This isn’t the first time Abu Marzook has made such statements. In 2006, he said in an interview with an Israeli-Palestinian radio station, "There’s no doubt that we realistically recognize Israel, since it exists it the territory, and there can’t be any agreements made with an imaginary entity. Israel exists, and everyone refers to these agreements. The problem isn’t related to this, and that’s not what Hamas demands. Our issue is the demand to recognize the legitimacy of the occupation – and to this, we won’t agree."
Abu Marzook also mentioned that Hamas’ leadership would be forced to hold a "de facto recognition" of Israel if it wanted to lead the Palestinian Authority, even though ideologically, it would continue to argue that it does not recognize Israel's right to exist as an occupier on Islamic lands.
"We are facing changes, and every movement will make them according to what’s realistic. But we won’t compromise on three things: governance according to Sharia law (Islamic law), our right to live in Palestine, and our right to resist the occupation," he said at the time, after the c Hamas’ current leader of, Ismail Haniyeh, was elected as the head of the Palestinian Authority in the elections.
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