Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal yesterday reiterated the organisation’s commitment to violence against Israel, despite Hamas’s agreement to form a Palestinian unity government alongside Fatah.

Mashaal was speaking in Doha at an event to mark what many Palestinians refer to as the ‘Naqba’ (catastrophe), the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Referring to the unity pact with Fatah, Mashaal said, “We have turned the page on this division … Hamas has already made sacrifices and this was necessary to be closer with our brothers, but with the invader we will not make any compromises.”

In April, the Fatah faction headed by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas announced that they had agreed to form a unity government within the coming weeks. The announcement prompted Israel to suspend peace talks with the PA, given that Hamas remains committed to Israel’s destruction. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has since then made it clear that there will be no peace negotiations with a government backed by Hamas, unless the organisation itself repudiates violence and embraces peace.

However, Mashaal’s speech yesterday made clear that Hamas remains committed to violent conflict with Israel regardless of its partnership with Fatah. Mashaal added, “The reconciliation does not mean an end to our resistance against the invaders, resistance will continue as long as the occupation exists.” He said that the reconciliation with Fatah would lead to “opening new options.”

Meanwhile, in apparent disparity with Mashaal’s comments, President Abbas insisted yesterday that the Palestinian unity government would commit itself to non-violence. In an interview with the Times of Israel, Abbas said that the new government would be comprised of independent, apolitical figures and that it would abide by the conditions set out by the Quartet, namely recognition of Israel, adherence to previous agreements with Israel, and the explicit rejection of violence and terrorism.