AFP Gaza City
Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip said yesterday “no one” can force it to disarm or recognise Israel, after Washington demanded it meet those conditions as part of a unity government.
“No one in the universe can disarm us. On the contrary, we will continue to have the power to protect our citizens,” the Islamist movement’s Gaza head Yahya Sinwar said. “No one has the ability to extract from us recognition of the occupation.”
Sinwar made the remarks during a speech to young people that was provided to AFP by Hamas.
Earlier in the day, a top aide to US President Donald Trump said an emerging Palestinian unity government must recognise Israel and disarm Hamas, Washington’s first detailed response to a landmark reconciliation deal signed last week.
Trump’s special representative for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt, who has repeatedly visited the region to seek ways of restarting peace talks, laid out a series of conditions.
“Any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognise the state of Israel, accept previous agreements and obligations between the parties — including to disarm terrorists — and commit to peaceful negotiations,” Greenblatt said in a statement.
The US conditions were roughly in line with principles previously set out by the Quartet for Middle East peace — the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.
“If Hamas is to play any role in a Palestinian government, it must accept these basic requirements,” Greenblatt said. The statement also echoed a response this week by Israel, which vowed not to negotiate with a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas unless the Islamist group agrees to a list of demands.
They included recognising Israel and renouncing violence, but also returning the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza, among other conditions.
Netanyahu welcomed Greenblatt’s comments.
“We want a genuine peace, and because of this we will not conduct negotiations with a terrorist organisation in diplomatic disguise,” he said.
Sinwar said of Hamas: “We are freedom fighters and revolutionaries for the freedom of our people. We fight the occupation according to international and humanitarian law.”
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