Hamas slams Annapolis peace talks
GAZA (Reuters) - Vowing to go on fighting the "Zionist enemy", Hamas called Mahmoud Abbas the worst leader in Palestinian history on Monday and said he had no right to make concessions to Israel at the Annapolis peace conference.
Speaking at an "anti-Annapolis" conference in Gaza, leaders of the Islamist group which seized the enclave from Abbas's forces in June said the president did not represent the Palestinian people and vowed never to recognise Israel.
"Let the whole world hear us -- we will not cede an inch of Palestine and we will never recognise Israel," Hamas's Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh told the meeting of about 1,000 people, including representatives from some other Palestinian factions.
Hamas's seizure of control of Gaza, prompted Abbas, whose rival Fatah faction holds sway in the West Bank, to sack Haniyeh as prime minister and open negotiations, with U.S. sponsorship, that could lead to a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
Hamas, shunned by the West for refusing to renounce violence, was not invited to Tuesday's conference in Annapolis.
Israel, which views Gaza as an "enemy entity" and launches regular raids into the territory to curb rocket attacks, killed a Hamas militant and wounded four in a missile strike on Monday.
Hamas said it would hold a second "alternative" conference in Damascus on Tuesday. Its exiled leader Khaled Meshaal is based in the Syrian capital but Syria blocked previous Hamas efforts to hold a gathering there and is sending its own representative to the U.S.-hosted talks with Israel in Maryland.
Hamas leaders also urged Palestinians to hold protests against the peace push. In the West Bank, Abbas's Information Minister Riyad al-Malki announced a ban on such rallies.
Hamas leaders have offered a long-term truce with Israel in return for a Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. But the Islamist group continues to say it will not formally recognise Israel and its 1988 founding charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state."
"We believe what has been taken by force can only be returned by force," senior Hamas figure Osama al-Muzaini said.
Another Hamas official, Fawzi Barhoum, said Abbas -- also known as Abu Mazen -- had presided over his people's worst days: "Palestinian history has witnessed no era worse than that when Abu Mazen headed the Palestinian Authority," he said.
Earlier on Monday, Hamas lawmakers signed a document vowing not to give up their claim to land from which Palestinians fled, or were forced to flee, when Israel was established in 1948.
"We say (to Abbas) that any concessions will not be binding on our people and on future generations," said Haniyeh.
(Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta in Ramallah; Editing by Keith Weir)
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