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Hamas Retains Position On Israel As Fatah Protests

Hamas supporters in Nablus celebrating their election victory (epa) 27 January 2006 -- A prominent Hamas leader said today that the group has no plans to change its policy and recognize Israel despite its surprise landslide victory in Palestinian legislative elections this week.

Mahmud Zahar asked why Hamas should recognize Israel when Israel does not recognize and independent Palestinian state.

In Damascus, another Hamas leader, Musa Abu Marzuq, said as Israel occupies land Palestinians claim there would be no recognition of the Jewish state.

Varied International Reaction

Raanan Gissin, senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said earlier today that Israel would not deal with an internationally branded terrorist group.

"The option is that Israel, of course, will not negotiate with any terrorist organizations which [are] recognized. Hamas is recognized as a terrorist organization by all the countries of the world and clearly it's against the Oslo agreement and against the road map to peace, [to] which the Palestinian authority has committed itself."

In Washington, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the Palestinian people voted for change and would now hold their leaders to account.

The U.S. consul-general in Jerusalem, Jacob Walles, said Washington would not deliver aid to terror organizations, members of terror organizations or ministries controlled by people belonging to terror organizations.

Russia's top Middle East diplomat Aleksandr Kalugin said Russia would maintain contacts with Hamas representatives if, quote, "this movement adheres to the line of political settlement."

Fatah Protests

Also today. thousands of supporters of the Fatah Party rioted in the Gaza Strip today, shooting in the air, torching cars, and demanding that Fatah form no coalition government with Hamas.

Fatah supporters, marching in front of the parliament building in Gaza, also demanded the resignation of top members of the Palestinian leadership.

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas was in the West Bank town of Ramallah at the time.

(AFP, AP, dpa)