Zahar says Hamas not against PLO, wants to change program
A Hamas leader on Sunday dismissed reports that his group wanted to establish a new umbrella body to replace the Palestine Liberation Organisation as the sole representative of the Palestinians.
Mahmoud al-Zahar told Al Jazeera television that remarks by Hamas's leader in exile, Khaled Meshaal, that some Palestinian groups were discussing the formation of a national steering committee as an alternative to the PLO had been misinterpreted.
"Meshaal's remarks about the resistance's programme were interpreted by (the media) to be an alternative to the PLO, and we didn't say that," Zahar, who is based in Gaza, said in Cairo in an interview with the Doha-based broadcaster.
The PLO has represented the Palestinians since 1964 but the more recently created Islamist movements Hamas and Islamic Jihad have never been part of it.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement is the largest of 11 groups that constitute the PLO, which in the early 1990s signed "accords with Israel" that aim to establish a Palestinian state.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad reject talks with Israel and continue armed struggle against decades of Israel occupation in Palestinian territories.
Zahar, who spoke in Cairo where he met Egyptian officials trying to seal a ceasefire deal between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip, reiterated his group's interest in joining the PLO if certain conditions were met.
"We want to acquire the international and Arab legitimacy and everything that the PLO has gained through elections, and to join the PLO," he told Al Jazeera.
But he added: "We are in favour of preserving the structure of the PLO, but not its programme. If we are a minority, we will respect that. But if we are a majority, they have to respect that."
Abbas said last week there would be no dialogue with Hamas unless it recognised the supremacy of the PLO.
Zahar headed for Damascus on Sunday to consult with Meshaal on Cairo's efforts to mediate a lasting truce with Israel, which killed more than 1,300 Palestinians, a third of them children in the 22-day military aggression on Gaza and wounded 5,300 Palestinians in Decemcer 2008 assault.
Reuters Last Mod: 08 Şubat 2009, 15:13