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US must respect Palestinian vote: Hamas

Recently, reports said that officials from the US and Israel were discussing ways to destabilise a Hamas-led Palestinian Govt.

india Updated: Feb 14, 2006 18:41 IST

Hamas on Tuesday condemned US and Israeli interference after a report that officials from the two countries were discussing ways to destabilise a Hamas-led Palestinian government.

The New York Times reported on Monday that officials from the United States and Israel were discussing ways to isolate Hamas if the militant Islamic group, which won an overwhelming victory in the Palestinian election, failed to recognise Israel's right to exist and renounce violence.

"The United States, which claims herself to be the mother of democracy, must respect the election results and the will of the Palestinian people," Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri said, condemning US and Israeli interference.

Hamas defeated Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement in the January 25 election on a pledge to end corruption and continue armed struggle for statehood. It is pledged officially to the destruction of Israel which it says is built on occupied Arab land.

New elections

The New York Times, in an article on its website, said the goal of the campaign would be to ensure that newly-elected Hamas officials failed and new elections were called.

The allies would seek to starve the Palestinian Authority of money and international connections, making life so difficult for Palestinians that they would vote to return a reformed Fatah movement to office, it said.

The Jerusalem-datelined story cited unidentified Israeli officials and US diplomats.

Israeli officials denied they were drafting a plan with the United States to destabilise a Hamas-led government to force new elections.

"The strategy is to present the incoming leadership of the Palestinian Authority a clear choice: either they transform themselves into a legitimate political interlocutor ... or they face international isolation," said foreign ministry spokesman Mark Regev.

The New York Times quoted officials as saying Hamas plans to build up its militias and increase violence and, unless it renounces violence, accepts Israel and accepts previous Palestinian-Israeli agreements, must be starved of power.

"If they make the wrong choice, all the options lead in a bad direction," a senior Western diplomat told the newspaper.

The strategy carries many risks, the officials conceded, saying Hamas would try to secure support from the larger Islamic world, including allies Syria and Iran.

Hamas may resort to an open military confrontation with Israel, it said, effectively beginning a third intifada, or uprising.

Israel, which does not expect Hamas to meet its conditions, will cut off payments of $50 million to $55 million a month in taxes and customs duties and put that money in escrow.

In addition, some of the aid the Palestinians receive from the United States and European Union will be stopped or reduced, the officials told The Times.

Further travel restrictions might also be imposed, including cutting Gaza off completely from the West Bank, the newspaper reported.

First Published: Feb 14, 2006 18:41 IST