Hamas on Saturday condemned a decision by Arab states to endorse next week's U.S.-hosted Israeli-Palestinian peace conference, saying the talks would favour the Israeli policies rather than Palestinian demands.
Arab League ministers agreed on Friday to attend the conference in the hope of promoting the creation of a Palestinian state and pushing for Israel to return the occupied Golan Heights to Syria. According to Reuters, Hamas official in the Gaza Strip Sami Abu Zuhri called the announcement "a great shock for Palestinians because it opened the door for direct normalisation with the occupation (Israel) amid (its) continued escalation and aggression".
"The Palestinian people had awaited an Arab consensus for breaking the siege," Abu Zuhri said in a statement. "This meeting will only achieve more failure and more harm to the Palestinian cause and to Arab and Palestinian rights."
Meanwhile, Hamas will step up attacks against Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank after a US-hosted peace conference next week, a senior official said in a statement on its website Saturday.
"The period that will follow the Annapolis conference will witness an increase of the resistance against the Zionist occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," said Mussa Abu Marzuq, top aide to Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal. "The Annapolis conference has two objectives: to help shore up (Israeli Prime Minister) Ehud Olmert after his defeat in the south of Lebanon and secondly to cover up for American plans of a war against Iran," he said, according to AFP.
Hamas insists that Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has no mandate to negotiate on behalf of all the Palestinians and Abu Marzuq conveyed that Olmert is politically unable to offer concessions to the Palestinians. Abu Marzuq also urged Palestinians to voice their rejection of the conference by organising demonstrations.