Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal managed to avoid directly answering the question of whether Hamas would recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state in an interview with CBS host Charlie Rose.
In the interview, which aired on "Face the Nation" on Sunday, Meshal said, "When we have a Palestinian state then the Palestinian state will decide on its policies. You cannot actually ask me about the future."
Earlier in the interview, the Qatar-based Hamas leader said he was "ready to coexist" with Jews and Christians, but added, "I do not want to live with a state of the occupiers."
"We are not fanatics; we are not fundamentalists. We do not actually fight the Jews because they are Jews per se. We do not fight any other races. We fight the occupiers," Meshal told Rose.
Sunday was the 20th day of Israel's Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip, and 10 days since the Israeli army launched its ground incursion into the strip. Egypt and U.S.-brokered cease-fire efforts had still not borne fruit on Sunday. Some 1,000 Palestinians have died in Gaza during the fighting, while 43 Israeli soldiers and 3 civilians have been killed.
Regarding Hamas' demand to lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip in exchange for a truce, Meshal said, "Life is not a prerequisite. Life is a right for our people in Palestine," he said. "This is a collective punishment; we need to lift the siege. We have to have a port. We have to have an airport. This is the first message. The second message in order to stop the bloodletting we need to look at the underlying causes, we need to look at the occupation,we have to stop the occupation."
Meshal also told Rose that the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians earlier this year was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's fault.
"Netanyahu doesn't take heed of our rights. Netanyahu has killed our hope, has killed our dream, and he has killed the American initiative," he said, referring to U.S.-brokered negotiations.
The interview will be aired in full on PBS, and additional segments will be broadcast on "CBS This Morning" on Monday.
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