Hamas leader: No room for truce
He says militant group may abandon pact at year's end
From Yoav Appel
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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- The leader of Hamas said Friday his group was growing weary of its pact with the Palestinian Authority to avoid conflict with Israel.
"There is no room for truce. I say to our brothers in the [Palestinian] Authority that we are witnessing political stagnation," Khaled Meshaal said in a fiery speech at a rally in the Syrian capital of Damascus.
"I say it loud and clear, we will not enter a new truce. Our people are preparing for a new round in this struggle," Meshaal said.
Meanwhile, Israel's Channel 2 reported the country's defense chief, Shaul Mofaz, was planning an economic siege of Gaza if the Palestinian Authority did not crack down on militant groups.
Channel 2 said Mofaz was considering closing the Karni and Eretz border crossings in Gaza, where Palestinian exports are brought into Israel, if the authority did not act within 48 hours.
The Israeli Defense Ministry did not return calls seeking comment on the Channel 2 report.
In recent days, Israel has suspended talks with the Palestinian Authority on staging truck convoys between the West Bank and Gaza.
This follows a suicide bombing Monday at a mall in the northern Israeli city of Netanya that killed five Israelis. (Full story)
The bombing came a day after Israel said it was resuming targeted air strikes in retaliation for Palestinian missile attacks launched from Gaza.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which claimed responsibility for the bombing, is dedicated to the creation of an Islamic Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel. The U.S. State Department labels it a terrorist organization.
Israel arrested some of the bomber's family members, and since the bombing Israeli attacks have killed four Palestinian militants in two strikes in Gaza.
Hamas, which also is labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, was one of several militant groups that agreed with the Palestinian Authority to not attack Israel in a deal brokered by Egypt that has been honored for the past nine months.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said the pact should continue: "I think it's a paramount Palestinian interest that all parties involved in the Cairo declaration must adhere and be committed to the cessation of violence and to the cease-fire."
Meshaal said he called for an end to the cease-fire because there will be no room for political negotiation until the middle of next year, at the very least.
"What are you expecting our people to do? Are you expecting us to be stuck in this void? Are you expecting us to totally surrender?" he asked during his speech.
In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri echoed Meshaal's sentiments, but in a less virulent tone.
Zuhri said Hamas would continue to honor the cease-fire until it expires at year's end, but after that "we will consider not renewing it."
Hamas' decision would be based on current Israeli-Palestinian relations and on Israel's decision to renew military strikes against militant leaders, Zuhri said.
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