Putrajaya: Hamas will not recognise Israel's right to exist or revive long-stalled peace talks, the Palestinian foreign minister said yesterday, adding that a referendum on recognising the Jewish state would be a waste of money.
"Israel will give us no chance to establish an independent state," Mahmoud Zahar said during a visit to Malaysia. "Nobody can trust Israel, nobody can trust America. America is strangling our people."
Asked about reviving Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Zahar said: "There is no peace process. .... We spent many years negotiating for nothing."
To resolve the deadlock, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of the rival Fatah party is urging Hamas to accept a proposal that implicitly accepts Israel's right to exist. He plans to call a referendum on the proposal.
Zahar laughed when asked to comment on Abbas's plan, saying, "Nobody will recognise Israel. There is no need for a referendum. The people will give to him our answer." However, Zahar said Hamas would allow Abbas to go ahead with a referendum if he wants to.
"We are not afraid of a referendum. But it is a waste of time, a waste of money. This process needs money. We have no money," he said. Zahar also dismissed US demands for Hamas to be more moderate.
"What type of moderate system would America like? To accept the occupation of our land and annexation of Jerusalem?" Zahar said.
Asked about his opinion of Abbas's approach toward resolving the Palestinian conflict, Zahar said, "He is believing in political methods which, from our point of view, are unable to be implemented, which are unrealistic." But he said Hamas has no option but to negotiate with Fatah.
Asked what Hamas will do in the meantime, he said, "Control the situation, to protect the people, to implement security. We are going to put things in order and do it in a practical way."
He urged Muslims to help the Palestinian government cope with the economic sanctions. If every Muslim in the world gives one dollar, the Palestinians would have US$1.3 billion (Dh4.78 billion), he said.