DAMASCUS, Syria — A senior Hamas official called on the United States Thursday to remove the militant Islamic group from Washington’s list of terrorist organizations and to open a dialogue without preconditions.
Moussa Abu Marzook, deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau, told The Associated Press the U.S. should deal with Hamas “as it is, and later there could be a dialogue…but there should be no preconditions.”
“Hamas is not the only side that wants peace. …All the Palestinians want peace because they are the only people whose rights have been encroached upon and who have been expelled from their lands,” Abu Marzouk said.
Abu Marzouk described as “absolutely unacceptable” Israel’s call for Hamas to start an unconditional dialogue with the Jewish state, saying “Hamas…was chosen by the Palestinian people…this is democracy.”
Hamas won a landslide victory in last month’s Palestinian legislative elections and has dispatched delegations to Arab and other foreign capitals to win support the group’s efforts to form a new government.
Hamas, which has previously carried out a wave of suicide bombings that killed or wounded hundreds of Israeli’s, has not claimed involvement in any suicide attacks since February 2005.
The radical organization has hinted at a readiness for a long-term truce or some other accommodation with the Jewish state, short of recognition.
But the U.S. and the European Union have threatened to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority if Hamas forms a government without first recognizing Israel and renouncing violence.
Abu Marzouk, who has been in Egypt, Sudan and Qatar, said Hamas found “all-out support” in the three countries, which back “the choice of the Palestinian people and the budget of the Palestinian Authority as it was in the past.” He did not elaborate.