DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said on Tuesday that peace talks between Palestinians and Israel next week could deal a fatal blow to the Palestinian cause.
Meshaal said in a speech in Damascus that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was too weak to stand up to Israel and negotiate a just deal at the talks in Washington on September 2.
“If the talks succeed they will succeed to Israeli standards and liquidate the Palestinian cause. They’ll give us parts of 1967 lands. They’ll draw the borders as they want and they’ll confiscate our sovereignty,” said Meshaal, who lives in exile in Syria, along with several Palestinian leaders.
Abbas’s negotiation strategy has long been condemned by the Hamas Islamist group which seized control of the Gaza Strip from him in 2007 and is deeply hostile to Israel.
Hamas does not rule out peace talks with Israel if they realize what it considers Palestinian rights.
Hamas has said it could live peacefully alongside Israel if Israel withdrew from all Palestinian land it occupied in the 1967 Middle East War. Hamas’s 1988 founding charter, however, calls for the destruction of Israel and for restoration of all of British mandate Palestine.
“Our grievance, in a nutshell, is occupation. Our project is resistance,” said Meshaal.
Meshaal asked Abbas and his Fatah faction to join Hamas in adopting a Palestinian strategy that does not drop diplomacy but concentrates on the “option on resistance and holding on to inalienable Palestinian rights.”
He said Palestinian negotiators were not legitimate.
The talks are the latest chapter in a peace process which, interrupted by several years of violence earlier this decade, has given Palestinians limited self-rule but no state on lands occupied by Israel since 1967.
The borders of the Palestinian state, the fate of Jewish settlements built on occupied land and the future of Jerusalem are among the tough issues that the negotiators will face and which past talks have failed to resolve.