Khaled Mashaal, Hamas’s political leader, said Saturday that negotiating with Israel without “resisting” was akin to asking for charity.
In a speech given in Qatar, the exiled leader said “negotiations without a show of force and without resistance would be like begging for charity at the enemy’s feet.”
“The war in Gaza taught us an important lesson, and that is that the enemy understands only the language of force,” he said. “We are in favor of political and diplomatic processes, but such processes must be leveraged from a position of resistance.”
Mashaal’s comments prompted Israeli officials to question whether Hamas was sincere in renewing ceasefire negotiations, Channel 10 reported. Thus far, officials said that the likelihood of resuming talks are slim.
During his speech, Mashaal called out to Israeli leaders directly, threatening “you will not have security, short conflicts or easy victories, not as long as the occupation persists.”
The Hamas leader, after meeting with Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki on Friday, said that the terror group would not agree to face-to-face talks with Israel.
“Direct negotiations with the Israeli occupier are not on the agenda of Hamas; if negotiations are necessary they must be indirect,” Mashaal stated. Palestinian and Israeli officials agreed to resume ceasefire talks next month but no specific date has been agreed upon by both sides.
Mashaal reiterated that Hamas will never give in to Israeli demands linking the reconstruction of Gaza with the disarmament of Hamas and other Gaza-based terror groups.
Echoing Mashaal’s sentiments, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Saturday that “Israel is attempting to tie the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip with various things, such as the weapons of Hamas or impairing capabilities.”
At an event memorializing journalists killed during the most recent conflict between Israel and Hamas, Haniyeh added, “I would like to make something clear: The weapons of the resistance cannot be tired to the reconstruction of Gaza or to any other issue to do with Gaza.”
Haniyeh said that Hamas would retain its military capabilities, which he deems legitimate, until “Palestine is freed from Israel.”
“Reconstruction is an obligation placed upon us, and we must rebuild Gaza after the destruction sown by Israel. But the weapons of the resistance and its capabilities are a red line that cannot be crossed, and which no one can touch,” he said.
Haniyeh reiterated that Hamas “will not agree to direct negotiations with the Zionist enemy.”
Israel does not conduct direct negotiations with Hamas, which it considers a terror organization. Among Israel’s demands are that Hamas recognize Israel, renounce terrorism and accept previous agreements as a precondition to enter into direct negotiations.