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By Amil Khan
Reuters
Sun Feb 5, 2006 11:32 AM ET9
http://tinyurl.com/dnpy9

CAIRO (Reuters) – Palestinian recognition of Israel was a mistake
that needs correction, a senior Hamas leader said on Sunday, as the
group faces pressure from Europe and the United States to recognize
the Jewish state.

The militant Islamist group would not consider recognizing Israel
while the status of the country’s borders remained unclear and
millions of Palestinian refugees were not unable to return to their
homes, the group’s deputy political leader said.

“We believe that there was a mistake that happened in the past and
this (recognition of Israel) in particular must be corrected,” Moussa
Abu Marouk told reporters in Cairo without giving further details.

The late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat recognized Israel on
behalf of the Palestinian people as part of the 1993 Oslo peace
agreements.

Hamas is trying to form a new Palestinian government after defeating
the long-dominant Fatah movement in January 25 elections.

Israeli officials have said Hamas has to unequivocally recognize
Israel’s right to exist and abandon terrorism.

The U.N. Security Council has made the same demand.

The United States and European Union have said that a Hamas-led
Palestinian Authority would risk losing crucial foreign aid unless
the group disarmed and recognised Israel.

Officials from the group have said they will not compromise their
principles for aid, saying alternative funding could come from Arab
and Islamic countries.

Marzouk said Israel had continued building settlements and occupying
and controlling access to Palestinian territory despite official
Palestinian recognition.

Israel says the status of settlements will be decided in peace talks
with the Palestinians and that it undertakes military operations in
Palestinian areas to protect the security of its citizens.

“Where are the borders of the Israel we are supposed to recognize?”
said Marzouk. “Are the settlements included in the borders of Israel?
…. Is the return of the refugees acceptable to Israel?”

“Until these questions are answered, it is not possible to propose it
(recognition),” he said.


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