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Hamas political leader vows to continue fight against Israelis

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Hamas reacts to peace talk concerns
  • Hamas resistance is "a legitimate and just cause," Khaled Meshaal says
  • He dismisses renewed peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians
  • Meshaal warns tolerance for another set of failed negotiations is waning

Damascus, Syria (CNN) -- The political leader of Hamas said in an interview Monday that the Islamist group will continue to fight what he called Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory, declaring the group's resistance "a legitimate and just cause, and therefore we will win no matter what."

Khaled Meshaal's comments on CNN International's "Prism" come amid a turning point in recently renewed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. New construction began at settlement sites in the disputed West Bank territory Monday, just hours after the expiration of a 10-month Israeli government moratorium on building.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas publicly urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to extend the moratorium "for three or four months while there are negotiations under way."

Hamas, a rival to Abbas' Fatah Party, is not participating in the talks, and Meshaal dismissed the negotiations as another publicity move by an American president.

Video: Hamas leader defends violence
  • Hamas
  • Israel
  • Palestine
  • Middle East Conflict

"Every president in his first term promises the Palestinians and the Arabs that he will work on making sure a Palestinian state will be formed in two or four years ... but the outcome is always the same," he said.

"Their presidential term is over and nothing happens -- instead we get the very exact opposite. The Palestinian cause gets diminished and the Israeli leaders immerse themselves in building more settlements, changing the land's identity, killing and arresting our people, and biting off more of our Palestinian land. This is a trick that no one believes in any more."

He warned that Palestinians tolerance for failed peace talks is waning.

"The international community must realize that Palestinians may get to that moment when they know that the policies of the international community will not bring them justice and will not force the Israelis to respect the borders," he said.

The Palestinian people will seek their own right and let the whole world deal with the consequences of that Palestinian decision."

Meshaal also defended Hamas attacks on Israelis, including an incident earlier this month by the group's military wing that left four Israeli settlers dead.

"Hamas is practicing its legitimate right -- we are defending our own people," he said. "Why does the international community get upset when we kill illegal settlers on our land? ... It is clear that the presence of settlers in the West Bank is illegal."

Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, scoffed at Meshaal's statements saying it's "not possible to talk to those who refuse systematically to talk to you and who will only address you with guns."

"We hope that when we reach a peace treaty with Palestinians that are willing to negotiate ... then Palestinians at large will see this as the great opportunity for them and they will naturally reject Hamas as an option and the organization as a whole," Palmor said.