Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Monday said that Hamas need not recognize Israel or honor peace agreements with the Jewish state to be part of his government.
Speaking before the Palestinian Youth Parliament a day before renewing reconciliation talks with Hamas, Abbas suggested that Hamas can carry on attacking Israelis even as it serves in the Palestinian Authority government.
Hamas officials said that is a good start, since the Palestinians overwhelmingly voted the terror group into power.
But Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum told the group's Al Qassam website that Abbas and his Fatah movement must also realize that Hamas' electoral victory means the Palestinian general public wants all of those participating in government to engage in "resistance" - local speak for terrorism.
"Fatah must stick with the Palestinian people choice resistance or the dialogue will fail," said Barhum as the two sides met in Cairo.
Israeli officials on Monday expressed outrage at a Los Angeles Times report that US President Barack Obama had asked Congress to amend US law to allow him to provide financial aid to a Palestinian government that includes an unrepentant Hamas.
"Every step that strengthens Hamas only distances peace. In the event that the report is true, it is painful and worrying," an Israeli political source told Ha'aretz.
Meanwhile, Israel's Foreign Ministry on Monday released a statement reaffirming the demand that the Palestinian recognize Israel as "the Jewish state."
"The recognition of Israel as the sovereign state of the Jewish people is an essential and necessary step in the historic process of reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians," read the statement. "The more the Palestinians assimilate this fundamental and substantive fact, the sooner the peace between the two nations will progress toward fruition."
Abbas has rejected the demand, and Obama and European leaders have backed the Palestinian's position.