Hamas, Fatah: Abbas Will Have Free Rein to Talk Peace With Israel

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The militant Hamas party won't recognize Israel under a future coalition government, but will give the moderate Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, free rein to talk peace with Israel, officials on both sides said Tuesday.

Hamas officials persisted with their anti-Israel rhetoric on Tuesday, rejecting any compromise with the Jewish state. But they said the next Palestinian government would substantially alter policies on relations with Israel. The current Hamas-led government has repeatedly refused to recognize Israel's right to exist — a key international demand.

The international demand "is illegal and illegitimate," Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas' political bureau, told The Associated Press in a telephone call from Syria, where the militant group's exiled leaders are based.

But they and officials from Abbas' rival Fatah party suggested a new division of labor would put Abbas in charge of diplomacy in a future coalition.

Officials from both parties, who are trying to establish a coalition government, hope the vague stance will lead to the lifting of international sanctions.