Prominent Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar has criticized the "weak" negotiating team of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the ongoing direct talks with Tel Aviv.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Zahar blamed the negotiators’ weakness on acting PA Chief Mahmoud Abbas’s backtrack on his pledge not to return to the negotiating table before a halt to Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, Ma’an news agency reported.
The Ramallah-based PA gave in to the US pressure to engage in face-to-face talks with the Israeli regime without any pre-conditions — a decision that sparked furor across Palestinian territories where the move was viewed as a submission to the will of Washington and Tel Aviv.
Zahar denounced the talks as "serving the good of the occupation" and as an instrument to implement US policies in the Middle East region in line with Washington’s pro-Israeli interests.
"They should be depending on resistance," he urged, warning that the US had no "positive role" in negotiations and would "eventually side with Israel in judaizing al-Quds [Jerusalem], building settlements and confiscating Palestinian land."
"The US negotiator [George Mitchell and the [Middle East] Quartet are only pressuring Palestinians to further compromise," the Hamas leader stated.
The remarks came a day after Israeli and PA leaders met in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for the second round of negotiations.
A third meeting between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ended on Wednesday, in al-Quds with not much achieved, as the two sides remain divided over core issues.
On September 2, the first round of direct negotiations were held in Washington at a highly publicized summit which came 20 months after Tel Aviv’s devastating offensive in the Gaza Strip in December 2008 and a consequent break-off of talks.