May 7, 2011 - 12:00am

Hamas leader Khaled Meshal said Saturday that his movement will make all decisions regarding the struggle against Israel, including if and when to use violence, in coordination with the West Bank leading faction Fatah, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Speaking from Cairo, just days after the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement was signed, Meshal said that the best way to achieve their goals was through agreement with the Palestinian Authority lead by President Mahmoud Abbas.

Meshal stressed in the interview that "negotiations with Israel, domestic governance, foreign affairs, domestic security and resistance and other field activities" against Israel, would be reached in consensus with the Fatah.

Meshal also defended the Hamas' right to wage an armed struggle against Israel, which includes firing rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel.

The rival Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas agreed Wednesday to reconcile and form an interim government ahead of elections in September, after a four-year feud, in what both sides hailed as a chance to start a fresh page in their national history.

Israel said the accord, which was brokered in secrecy by Egypt, would not secure peace in the Middle East and urged Abbas to carry on shunning the Islamist movement, which has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007 after ousting Fatah in a civil war.

Western powers have always refused to deal with Hamas because of its refusal to recognize Israel and renounce violence.

Hamas won the last Palestinian legislative elections held in 2006 and a new ballot is months overdue. Israel is worried such a vote could hand Hamas control of the West Bank, which is run by Abbas and his more secular supporters.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lambasted the reconciliation, declaring in a televised statement: "The Palestinian Authority must choose either peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There is no possibility for peace with both," Netanyahu said in a televised statement.

The White House said Hamas was "a terrorist organization" and added that any Palestinian government would have to renounce violence. A U.S. official said it would also have to respect past peace deals and recognize Israel's right to exist.

Both Hamas and Fatah dismissed Netanyahu's ultimatum.


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