A spokesman for the Hamas militant group says a new Palestinian government will not recognize Israel or accept a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict. The comments could complicate efforts to form a Palestinian unity government.
The comments by Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum came as negotiators for the Palestinian Fatah and Hamas factions continued talks aimed at creating a unity Palestinian government.
Speaking by cell phone from Gaza, Barhoum told VOA that Hamas will never recognize Israel as long as Israeli troops continue what he describes as their occupation of Palestinian lands.
"We, as Hamas, we refuse to recognize Israel because the Israeli occupation has invaded our land and is all the time killing women and children," he said. "The Israeli occupation refuses to recognize our people as humanity, and our activities as Palestinians."
Hamas is regarded as a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union, and Israel. The Hamas refusal to recognize Israel has led to a cutoff of international assistance to the Palestinian Authority, which Hamas has controlled since winning legislative elections earlier this year.
Intensive efforts are under way to create Palestinian unity government not led by Hamas that could lead to a resumption of aid by international donors.
Political science professor Ali Jarbawi, of Bir Zeit University in the West Bank city of Ramallah says it is unclear what impact Barhoum's comments will have on that process, but from a Palestinian point of view the comments can be easily understood.
"It would be surprising for Hamas to recognize the state of Israel. I think recognition is an outcome rather than something you have to do prior to peace talks," commented Jarbawi. "Peace talks lead to mutual recognition. When Israel recognizes the national rights of the Palestinians, when they recognize that there is an occupation and that the occupation should end, and a Palestinian state should come about finally, then the mutual recognition will come."
Israel has stated flatly that it will have nothing to do with any new Palestinian unity government unless it meets three conditions; recognize Israel, renounce terrorism, and accept previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.
Israel's position is critical because it controls the flow of tax and customs revenue to the Palestinians, which have been suspended and are vital for paying the salaries of more than 150,000 Palestinian civil servants. Israel's position is also broadly supported by the United States and the European Union, key donors to the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held closed-door talks with Jordan's King Abdullah in Amman. The talks followed reports that both Mr. Abbas' Fatah movement and Hamas had reached agreement on naming the former head of the Islamic University in Gaza, Mohammed Shabir, who is not a member of Hamas, as prime minister of a new government.