Hamas says it can be democratic and fight Israel

Published on Jan 22, 2006 08:34 AM IST

With just three days to go until historic Palestinian parliamentary elections, the head candidate for Hamas has said that the Islamist movement will continue its fight against Israel if it is elected.

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None | ByAgence France-Presse, Gaza City

With just three days to go until historic Palestinian parliamentary elections, the head candidate for Hamas has said that the Islamist movement will continue its fight against Israel if it is elected.

Ismail Haniya told AFP there is no contradiction in Hamas continuing its armed struggle while sitting in a democratically elected legislature, at least until the whole of Palestine is freed.

"Hamas will be active in the resistance as well as in parliament in the political domain. There is no contradiction," said Haniya, 43, whose movement is set to make an unprecedented showing in Wednesday's general election, the first it has contested.

He said the reason Hamas is now taking part, having boycotted the only previous such election in 1996, is to "protect the right to resistance and Palestinians' right to defend themselves".

"If the Israeli occupation ends, the Palestinian people recover their rights and enjoy an independent and totally sovereign state with Jerusalem as its capital, then (the use of) weapons will no longer be necessary."

And, he said, that future state should include "all of Palestine" - including Israel - and be governed by laws "inspired by sharia" Islamic law.

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