Hamas vows to continue fight against Israeli occupation, offers unity government
Hamas' leader, Ismail Hanneya, said that he was reached over telephone by Hussein Al-Sheikh, a prominent Fatah leader in the West Bank, who congratulated him on the crushing victory Hamas posted in the Palestinian legislative elections held Wednesday in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Al-Sheikh affirmed that the ruling PA faction would honor the election results being reflective of the Palestinian people's will, according to Hanneya, also head of Hamas' electoral list, the change and reform bloc.
"I confirmed to Al-Sheikh that we are sons of one nation, and told him that Hamas would enhance its principles of safeguarding national unity and political partnership in the forthcoming stage," he noted. The Hamas' leader also highlighted that Hamas would keep struggling against the Israeli occupation and would boost cooperation with all factions in the Palestinian arena.
Meanwhile, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will ask Hamas to form the next Palestinian government, a senior Fatah legislator said Thursday. Top Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal told Abbas his movement is ready for a political partnership. However, Fatah does not want to join a Hamas government, said Fatah legislator Saeb Erekat. "We will be a loyal opposition and rebuild the party," Erekat said, after meeting with Abbas.
International reactions to the Hamas victory reflected the surprise. Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, according to news reports, called it a "very, very, very bad result." But Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European Union's external relations commissioner, said Hamas must be "ready to work for peace" with Israel if it joins the Palestinian government.
U.N. Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, congratulated the Palestinian people on the peaceful elections, which he views as an important step toward a Palestinian state, the AP reported.