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Hamas says return to peace talks a 'disaster'

July 20, 2013 4:55 A.M. (Updated: July 23, 2013 10:01 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The United States has deluded the Palestinian Authority into thinking that there will be a positive outcome in negotiations with Israel, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told Ma'an Saturday.

The senior Hamas official said the PA's return to negotiations is a "disaster" and a cover for the Israeli agenda of Judaization, settlement building and the displacement of Palestinians.

The recent breakthrough in a return to talks places Palestinian reconciliation at risk, Barhoum added, stressing that it would lead to a great loss of Palestinian rights and a "grand prize" for Israel.

"Stopping political reconciliation for negotiations between the PA and Israel is very dangerous," he said.

"For Hamas, reconciliation is a strategy that must be implemented instantly in light of the current Arab and global situation and US and European collusion with Israel."

The Islamist group's spokesman went on to say that Israel and the US are "extorting" the PA to distance itself from Hamas.

US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in Amman late on Friday that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators had laid the groundwork to resume the frozen peace talks.

PLO negotiator Saeb Erakat and his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni would meet him in Washington "to begin initial talks within the next week or so."

On Saturday, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said his government would engage in the staged release of a "limited number" of prisoners, some of whom have been in Israeli jails for 30 years.

Steinitz provided no other details but said "there will definitely be a certain gesture here".

Despite the breakthrough, Israelis and Palestinians remain far apart on final status issues including the borders of a future Palestinian state, the right of return of Palestinian refugees, and the fate of Jerusalem which both want as their capital.

It is unclear how a peace settlement could be implemented without the consent of Hamas, who won parliamentary elections in 2006 and now rule the Gaza Strip.
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