March 12, 2007.
The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas rejected on Monday criticism by al
Qaeda’s second-in-command and said it was still committed to Israel’s
destruction despite a power-sharing deal with the Fatah faction.
“We will not betray promises we made to God to continue the path of Jihad
and resistance until the liberation of Palestine, all of Palestine,” Hamas said in a
statement, in a clear reference to Israel as well as to the occupied West Bank.
In an audio recording posted on the Internet on Sunday, al Qaeda’s Ayman
al-Zawahri accused Hamas of serving U.S. interests by agreeing to respect past
Palestinian peace accords with Israel in a recent Saudi-brokered unity
government deal with moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah.
The coalition agreement fell short of meeting demands by the Quartet of peace
mediators — the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and
Russia — to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept existing interim
Hamas killed nearly 300 Israelis in 58 suicide bombings after a Palestinian
uprising began in 2000. It last carried out a suicide bombing in Israel in 2004.
In its statement Hamas said it continued to be a “movement of
resistance, seekers of martyrdom” and that its “principles will never be
“Zawahri’s recent statements were wrong … Resistance is our strategy.
How and when? This depends on the reality at the time and our corresponding
view of things,” Hamas said.
“So be assured doctor Ayman, and all those who love Palestine like
yourself, that Hamas is still the group you knew when it was founded and it will
never abandon its path.”
Hamas said its decision to run in the January 2006 Palestinian election that
brought it to power and last month’s unity deal with Fatah “came only to
preserve the higher interests of the Palestinian people”.
Hamas leaders have offered a long-term truce with Israel in return for a
viable Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The
group’s 1988 founding chapter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.