Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin told Reuters, ”We have stopped the dialogue with the Palestinian Authority,.’
“This is our choice and we have no alternative. [Armed] resistance will continue.”
Yassin said Abbas had refused to deal with key issues like the right of return of Palestinian refugees to what is now Israel and the future of Jerusalem. Following the Hamas announcement, thousands of Palestinians took to the streets across the Gaza Strip shouting, “No to the summit, we will not accept surrender,” according to The Washington Post.
Prime Minister Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, met with President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Wednesday in Jordan to discuss the U.S.-led “road map” to Middle East peace.
The plan is a set of reciprocal steps leading to security for Israel and the establishment of a Palestinian state in 2005. It calls for a reprieve in the wave of Palestinian terrorist attacks and, in return, asks Israel to loosen restrictions on travel within the Palestinian territories and remove unauthorized Jewish outposts.
The road map, which the Palestinian government accepted and the Israeli leadership endorsed with reservations, calls on the Palestinian Authority to commit to the “dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure” and “confiscation of illegal weapons.”
Hamas’ refusal to work with the Palestinian prime minister has raised concerns that Abbas’ new reformist government will have to crack down on militants, leading to a possible civil war.
Trying to calm the situation, Palestinian cabinet minister Ziad Abu Amr, Abbas’ liaison to Hamas, said the government is committed “not to resort to force” in internal affairs.
“Israel’s continuation of the policy of assassinations and incursion is an obstacle in the way of efforts of dialogue with the Palestinian parties and the possibility of reaching a cease-fire with them,” Abu Amr said, referring to an Israeli raid on a Palestinian village Thursday night in which two Hamas members were killed.
The United States, meanwhile, denounced Hamas’ decision.
“Hamas is an enemy of peace and we will continue working with all parties to try to achieve peace,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Friday.