(source: Ma’an News Agency)
Hamas leader Khalid Mash’al said Monday that Arab officials had urged the movement to accept the International Quartet’s conditions and recognize Israel in exchange for amendments to the Egyptian-backed unity deal.
"Whoever asks us to recognize Israel will be disappointed," Mash’al, the senior-most Hamas leader said during a speech marking a week of Prisoners Day activities in Damascus, where he has lived since his August 1999 expulsion from Jordan.
"I tell the Americans, the Zionists, and everyone … we will not succumb to your terms. We won’t pay a political price no matter how long the blockade lasts. God is with us and he will grant us victory."
Addressing Palestinian prisoners, the Hamas leader vowed to ensure their release. "All the laws of the world were not enough to release prisoners. They signed Oslo and many agreements after but thousands remained in the prisons of the enemy. "We, the resistance factions, announced calmly on several occasions that we have only two demands: end all aggression and release the prisoners. But this was not enough to release them," Mash'al said. "We only have one solution now, we will detain your soldiers as you detain our men and women," he added. "Gilad Shalit will not be the last [captured soldier]; this is a promise," the Hamas leader said. Mash'al further said Israeli officials would be responsible for any future detention of their soldiers. "I say, to Noam Shalit and all the parents of new detainees, blame only your leaders, for they are the ones responsible for more soldiers being detained as they foiled the swap deal." On Thursday, Noam Shalit sent a letter to Mash'al urging him to wrap up negotiations with Israel for a prisoner swap. Shalit appealed to the Hamas leader "to rise above the political considerations of the Hamas movement for the good of the Palestinian prisoners, and in the interests of Palestinians in general, and demonstrate leadership" by signing off on an agreement.
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