CBSN

Hamas: Include Militant Wing In Army

Palestinian Militants from the al-Aqsa Martyrs Bigades, a militia linked to the Fatah movement, are seen after they took over the Palestinian Parliament building in the West Bank town of Ramallah Saturday Jan. 28.
AP
Hamas suggested Saturday that the Islamic group could create a Palestinian army that would include its militant wing — responsible for scores of deadly attacks on Israelis — in the aftermath of its crushing victory in parliamentary elections.

Israeli officials condemned the plan, demanding that Hamas renounce violence. Palestinian security officers, including loyalists from the defeated Fatah Party, said they would never submit to Hamas control.

"Hamas has no power to meddle with the security forces," said Jibril Rajoub, a Palestinian strongman.

The tension between the election's winners and losers is rising, reports CBS News correspondent David Hawkins, as the police joined Fatah gunmen and helped

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Armed militants marched into Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' compound in Ramallah to demonstrate their rejection of Hamas' authority. Their defiance raised fears of a spike in violence between Palestinian factions.

Clashes have already broken out between the two sides. Hamas gunmen wounded two policemen in Gaza early Saturday in what authorities said was a roadside ambush. The attack came hours after another firefight wounded a Hamas activist and two police officers, one of whom was in a coma Saturday.

Hamas won 74 out of 132 seats in parliamentary elections Wednesday to Fatah's 45. The militant group's victory threw the fate of international aid to the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority in doubt and darkened the chances for a peace deal with Israel.

Speaking from his base in Damascus, Syria, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal insisted his group would not disarm and said Hamas' military wing, estimated at nearly 5,000 gunmen in Gaza alone, could be merged into a Palestinian army.

"We are ready to unify the weapons of Palestinian factions, with Palestinian consensus, and form an army like any independent state," he said.

Israeli officials demanded that Hamas look for peaceful solutions to the conflict.

"If Hamas wants to be considered a partner in peace, it's very clear what it has to do. It has to renounce terrorism, disarm, accept Israel's right to exist and support political solutions to issues rather than pursuing violent jihad," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said.

Dr. Mahmoud Zahar, a founder and high-level leader of Hamas, told 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace that there is no one in the Israeli government he feels he can trust enough to negotiate with, and it is President Bush who

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Mashaal also said Hamas would abide by existing agreements with the country "as long as it is in the interest of our people."

Israel and the Palestinians have a host of agreements dealing with everything from administration to peace frameworks. Mashaal did not say which agreements he was referring to.