Hamas rules out negotiations with Israel


Saturday, December 31, 2005 (Damascus):

The political chief of Hamas, the militant Palestinian group, has said the organisation would participate in upcoming legislative elections but would not negotiate with Israel, vowing to continue its armed struggle against the Jewish State.

"We will enter the parliament and engage in political work without giving up one inch of Palestine," Khaled Mashaal said in a speech marking the 18th anniversary of the founding of Hamas.

The Islamic movement is fielding candidates for the first time in Palestinian parliamentary elections slated for January 25 and has done well in several rounds of local voting.

The group, which has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings, appears poised to make a strong showing against the Palestinians' long-ruling mainstream Fatah Party in the election.

Israel has threatened to ban voting in the election if the Palestinian Authority does not prevent Hamas from running.

"This is our right," Mashaal told crowds at the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus.

He said he rejected US and other demands to disarm and said: "We will show America, Israel and the international community... . We insist on combining the resistance with politics without compromising."

"We will engage in politics in another language, without necessarily negotiating with the enemy," he said.

Mashaal said his group would not stop its armed resistance until all the territory claimed by the Palestinians is free from Israeli occupation. (AP)