GAZA CITY (AFP) – Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said his radical Islamic group rejected the international peace “roadmap,” which it said risked replacing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with inter-Palestinian strife.
“We strongly reject this roadmap because it will give more security to the Zionists and could replace the Israel-Palestinian conflict with an inter-Palestinian confrontation,” the Gaza-based political leader told AFP on Wednesday.
Haniyeh was talking as international diplomats presented the plan, drafted by the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia, to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian premier Mahmud Abbas.
The roadmap sets out the steps toward creation of a Palestinian state with limited sovereignty in Gaza and the West Bank, while Islamic groups want it to be established on the whole of historic Palestine, destroying Israel.
But another Hamas leader said an overnight suicide bombing in a Tel Aviv bar that killed three people was a challenge to Israel, not to the new Palestinian regime.
Abdul Aziz al-Rantissi, who rejected the new prime minister’s pledge to collect all weapons not in the hands of security forces, said the bombing by the group’s armed wing and an offshoot of Abbas’ own Fatah movement was a sign of the militants’ continuing “resistance”.
“The Tel Aviv attack was confirmation that the resistance will continue and the suicide bombings will continue. This is not a challenge to to the Abu Mazen government, it is a challenge to the occupation,” he told AFP, using Abbas’s nom de guerre.
He said the attack on Mike’s Place, a busy bar on Tel Aviv’s waterfront, had probably been planned long before the parliament session to approve Abbas’s government, although as a political leader he denied direct complicity in armed attacks.
“I cannot say that the two groups (the Al-Aqsa Martys Brigades and Hamas’s armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades) agreed to prepare the attack in one hour” after Abbas was given a vote of confidence late Tuesday by parliament.
Abbas said he rejected all forms of terrorism and that his security forces were ready to implement an international peace plan that calls for an end to violence.