Hamas demands end of Israeli occupation of Gaza and West Bank

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WASHINGTON // The leader of Hamas is demanding anew that Israel end its occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

Khaled Meshaal said in an interview broadcast on Monday that he believes the world hasn’t taken an even-handed view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Unfortunately the world doesn’t blame the Israelis,” said Mr Meshaal, interviewed by CBS News anchor Charlie Rose from Cairo.

Mr Meshaal complained that Palestinians too frequently have to hear pleas for the security of the Jewish state, asking “why don’t you give it to Palestinians?”

Asked if Hamas believes there’s only a military solution to the long-standing regional conflict, he said, “As a Palestinian, I want to be liberalised. I want to live without occupation.”

“Did you not kick the British out,” he asked Rose, speaking through a translator. He called occupation “the worst thing you can imagine.”

Asked point-blank if he would recognise Israel’s right to exist, Mr Meshaal replied, “No.”

“I can’t coexist with occupation. Without occupation, you can coexist,” he said. “I’m ready to coexist with the Jews, with the Christians and with the Arabs and non-Arabs.”

Yet, Mr Meshaal declined to say whether he would recognise Israel if it withdrew from the territories.

“I said I do not want to live with a state of occupiers,” he said. “One would have a Palestinian state, then the Palestinian state will decide on its policies.”

* Associated Press