GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – A top Hamas (search) leader said Wednesday that the Islamic militant group has no plans to disarm, adding that the new Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas (search), has no authority to order an end to attacks against Israel.
The comments by Mahmoud Zahar (search), a senior Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, complicated Abbas' efforts to persuade militants to declare a cease-fire.
Abbas, who hopes to restart peace talks with Israel, was elected in a landslide victory on Sunday.
While Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he is ready to meet with Abbas, Israel is pressuring him to crack down on Palestinian militants as a condition for resuming peace negotiations.
Abbas has resisted calls to confront militants, preferring instead to persuade them to halt attacks.
"Hamas is not planning to give the weapons of its fighters to the Palestinian Authority, but we will ask Mr. Abbas to protect the Palestinians in face of the repeated occupation incursions," Zahar said in a statement posted on a Hamas Web site.
"As long as occupation and aggression continue, and as long as occupation persists, then no one could disarm us," he added.
Zahar said Hamas would soon meet with Abbas, although he did not say when the talks would take place.
Zahar said Abbas has no authority to order a cease-fire because Palestinian refugees living outside of the West Bank and Gaza did not vote in Sunday's election. Hamas also boycotted the vote.
"The Palestinian Authority presidential election was meant to choose a president for the Palestinian Authority only, and not for the Palestinian people, in order to run internal affairs," Zahar said.