Hamas would consider any Palestinian peace deal with Israel as a truce, the Islamist movement's second-in-command Mussa Abu Marzuk said in a rare interview with American Jewish daily Forward.
"We will not recognise Israel as a state," he reiterated during an interview conducted over two days in Cairo, where he has lived since leaving Damascus along with most of the Hamas leadership in exile.
Abu Marzuk stressed that while under the reconciliation agreement with Fatah leader and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, Hamas did not object to the rival Palestinian faction negotiating with Israel, his movement's position remained that any deal must be put to a referendum of all Palestinians, including refugees.
"When we reach the agreement, our point of view is, it’s a hudna" or truce, Abu Marzuk, the deputy director of Hamas' political bureau, told the Forward.
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After Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin signed the Oslo Accords in 1993, his successor, Benjamin Netanyahu, who opposed it, made many changes, he noted.
"Let’s establish a relationship between the two states in the historic Palestinian land as a hudna between both sides," added the leader of Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip that remains under Israeli blockade.
"It’s better than war and better than the continuous resistance against the occupation. And better than Israel occupying the West Bank and Gaza, making all these difficulties and problems on both sides," he argued.
Abu Marzuk did not exclude that his position on recognising Israel could be "completely different" in "10 years."
Hamas is currently renewing its Advisory Council (Majlis al-Shura), which will select the movement's political bureau.
Part of the Hamas leadership, particularly in Gaza, accuses the political bureau chief Khaled Meshaal of having agreed to too many concessions toward reconciliation, declaring that he would "give a chance" to negotiations with Israel.