Photo: Reuters
Khaled Mashaal
Photo: Reuters

'Hamas ready to form Palestinian army'

Khaled Mashaal, Hamas politburo chief, tells news conference in Damascus group ready to merge armed factions, including its military wing, to form army to defend Palestinian people

Hamas is ready to merge armed factions including its military wing to form an army to defend the Palestinian people, a senior Hamas leader said on Saturday.


"We are willing to form an army like every country... an army to defend our people against aggression," Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal told a news conference in Damascus following the group's sweeping victory in Palestinian parliamentary elections.


Mashaal said his group wanted a partnership with other Palestinian factions and called for the world to respect organization's landslide victory in parliamentary elections.


In the press conference, Mashaal outlined three goals: Reform of the Palestinian authority, sustaining its resistance to Israel and "arranging the Palestinian home."


The Hamas chief also obliquely refused to disarm.


"As long as we are under occupation then resistance is our right," he said.


Mashaal indicated attacks on Israeli civilians would continue as long as Israel continued to target Palestinian civilians.


"Resistance is a legitimate right that we will practice and protect. Our presence in the legislature will strengthen the resistance," Mashaal said. "If people raised the issue of targeting civilians, we said and we say that when our enemy stops targeting civilians we will abide by that."


'We will reach a partnership'


Asked if a truce that ended at the end of 2005 will be renewed, Mashaal said "its results were not encouraging."


He said he was in contact with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. "We will reach a partnership formula, and we extend our hand to everyone."


He said no Palestinian faction would be sidelined.


Mashaal attacked U.S. And Israeli opposition to the Hamas victory, saying the "World raised the slogan of democracy and now it should respect the results of democracy. If you want to punish the Palestinian people for practicing democracy then the American administration should punish Americans for choosing President (George W.) Bush."


He declared Hamas' determination to reshape the Palestinian authority, coining the phrase: "Hamas succeeded in resistance and it will succeed in reforms."


In an apparent reference to the ruling Fatah Party, Mashaal warned those "Who might try block the work because they are out of power. They are the ones who will be responsible."


Mashaal vowed to work for Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails, which, he said, numbered 9,000.


פרסום ראשון: 01.28.06, 15:03
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