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Monday, 12 August, 2002, 19:15 GMT 20:15 UK
Militants 'to continue attacks in Israel'
Attack by militant group Hamas on Hebrew University in Jerusalem
Israel is doubtful the militants can be reined in
Palestinian militant group Hamas has vowed to continue attacks inside Israel after rejecting a proposal to limit attacks on Israeli targets.

The decision by the group followed a day of talks in Gaza City by Palestinian political factions in which all sides attempted to develop a more unified leadership before embarking on a series of political and social reforms.


The manifesto stresses the legitimacy of all sorts of resistance. It does not exclude anything

PFLP leader Jamil Majdalawi

A draft document had included the proposal that militant attacks would be limited to Gaza City and the West Bank and would avoid targeting Israeli civilians.

However this was rejected by Hamas and other groups have shown support for their stance.

Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin told Reuters news agency: "The soldier who attacks me here, I must attack him there [in Israel.]"

Resistance 'legitimate'

The new draft instead reaffirms both political work and resistance as legitimate means of continuing the Palestinian struggle.

"We stress the legitimacy of our resistance against the [Israeli] aggression and the occupation, and the Israeli settlements," the new document says.

Hamas militant
One official said that Hamas feared losing credibility if it reversed its hardline position

Another militant group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [PFLP] said they favoured the new document.

"The manifesto stresses the legitimacy of all sorts of resistance. It does not exclude anything," said PFLP leader Jamil Majdalawi.

One Palestinian official who asked not to be named told French news agency AFP that Hamas was "scared of losing a big part of its popularity and credibility", should it reverse its hardline position as the most militant wing of the fight against Israeli occupation.

The new draft is now being held under consideration by all of the Palestinian factions, but the capitulation to militant groups will be a blow to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

The Palestinian leader is currently under enormous pressure from Israel and the international community to bring about major reforms within the Palestinian Authority and halt the wave of militant attacks against Israel.

New representation

If all factions agree to the new proposal a 20-member national unity leadership would be created with representation from all parties, including militants, the Associated Press reported.

This body would consult with Mr Arafat and the Palestinian Authority prior to elections tentatively set for January next year, although the precise powers of the body remain unclear.

Bringing militant groups such as Hamas into such a body could allow the Palestinian leadership to exert more influence on their actions and rein in their leaders.

Israel, however, has expressed doubt that the inclusion of groups such as Hamas could lead to an end to attacks on Israeli civilians

"Hamas is a terrorist organisation dedicated to the destruction of Israel, and all talks between them and the Palestinian Authority until now have come to nothing," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Sofer said.


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