Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal urged the West on Wednesday to talk to Hamas that won a landslide victory in 2006.
"I tell European nations ... three years of trying to eliminate Hamas is enough. It is time for you to deal with Hamas, which has gained legitimacy through struggle," Meshaal said in a televised speech from the Syrian capital.
Under international pressure, Israel declared a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip after a 22-day offensive devastated the small, densely-populated Palestinian territory and killed about 1,300 Palestinians, and also Hamas declared truce.
Comparing Hamas to European liberation movements during World War Two, Meshaal said Hamas has earned further legitimacy by withstanding the Israeli invasion of Gaza.
"The resistance remained steadfast despite the huge imbalance in firepower. Our people remained standing and Hamas emerged stronger," he said.
"This battle has proved that force alone will not provide security for the Zionist entity (Israel) and that peace will not be at the expense of Palestinian rights," Meshaal said.
Hamas says "defends Palestinian territories by armed freedom struggle against Israel occupation for years."
Hamas won a parliamentary election in 2006 and drove its Fatah rivals from Gaza by force in 2007.
Leaders of Hamas have said they would accept the establishment of a Palestinian state on land occupied by Israel in 1967 in return for a truce.
Meshaal lives in Syria along with other exiled Palestinian leaders.
Last Mod: 22 Ocak 2009, 12:46