The hard-line Palestinian foreign minister dismissed Thursday an Arab peace initiative that is dividing his faltering Hamas government.
“It is an impractical initiative,” Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar told The Associated Press in an interview at the end of a Sino-Arab Cooperation Forum hosted by Beijing. China supports the Arab initiative, launched in 2002, which calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
Al-Zahar, whose government faces protests at home because of its inability to pay civil servants, hinted that an end to the financial crunch brought on by crushing international sanctions was near, but offered no details. He also said China had not offered any financial aid during his visit and that the two sides did not discuss any aid projects.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has set a June 6 deadline for Hamas to resolve its differences with his more moderate Fatah faction or he will call a referendum that will put the idea of a two-state solution to the Mideast conflict to the public.
Al-Zahar on Thursday repeated his opposition to the referendum, calling it a waste of money. Pointing out that Hamas had just won an election in January, he said, “We are not in need of a referendum.” Zahar met with his Chinese counterpart Li Zhaoxing on Thursday. Al-Zahar offered no details of their talks.