Hamas Says It Won't Be 'Blackmailed'

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh after meeting with the Jordanian representative to the Palestinian Authority Yahia Al-Karallah, not seen, in Gaza City Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2006.
A top Hamas official on Tuesday said the group will not be "blackmailed" by international threats to cut off aid to the Palestinians and said Hamas already is searching for new sources of funding.

Israel, meanwhile, is imposing economic sanctions on the Palestinian Authority, withholding about $50 million dollars a month in tax revenues, saying it will not finance Hamas, reports CBS News correspondent Robert Berger.

Osama Hamdan, a member of the group's exiled leadership, spoke a day after international donors that support the Palestinian government said millions of dollars of aid could be in jeopardy if Hamas does not change its violent ways. Hamas, which has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide attacks, is poised to lead the next Palestinian government after winning legislative elections.

"We are looking for alternative sources and we will not allow ourselves to be blackmailed," Hamdan said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press from Beirut, Lebanon. "We will not accept any conditions from anybody. At the same time, we are ready for dialogue."

In other developments:

  • The Israeli army and Jewish settlers in the West Bank are on a collision course, reports Berger (audio). Seven thousand Israeli police and soldiers are poised to dismantle the illegal settlement outpost of Amona in the West Bank. Hundreds of settlers have set up barbed wire and cement blocks and vowed to prevent the evacuation.
  • Hard-line Israeli politician Benjamin Netanyahu could gain votes from Hamas' electoral victory, analysts say. A poll published Monday — the first since Hamas won 74 out of 132 seats in the Palestinian legislative council last week — showed Likud making gains.
  • Five children were seriously injured when a land mine left over from the 1967 Arab-Israeli war exploded near the city of Quneitra on the Syrian side of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, the Syrian government newspaper Al-Thawra said Tuesday.
  • Israeli troops killed two Islamic Jihad militants on Tuesday during a shootout that erupted after the army tried to arrest the men in a village outside Jenin.

    Monday's meeting of the so-called "Quartet" of Mideast peace makers — the European Union, United States, Russia and United Nations — stopped short of issuing an outright threat to Hamas.

    But they said it is "inevitable" that future aid to a Hamas-led government "would be reviewed" if Hamas fails to renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept existing agreements between the Palestinians and Israel. Hamas leaders on Monday rejected the Western demands.