The Palestinian people will gain nothing from direct Middle East peace talks with Israel, Gazan Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh told the Palestinian Ma'an news agency on Monday, a little less than a week before the planned launch of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Israel and the Palestinians accepted on Friday an invitation by the United States and other powers to restart direct talks on Sept. 2 in a modest step toward forging a peace deal within 12 months to create a Palestinian state and peacefully end one of the world's most intractable conflicts.
Speaking at a Gaza Strip mosque on Monday, Haniyeh said that the scheduled negotiations would not restore Palestinians' rights or give them control over religious sites, saying that they "should trust God, who will be an ally of the Palestinians."
According to the Ma'an report, Haniyeh also praised the steadfastness of the Palestinian people in the face of Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, saying the Palestinians were a "model for the Arab nations and Islamic countries."
On Sunday, Ma'an reported that Hamas had cancelled a planned reconciliation meeting with rival Palestinian faction Fatah over the weekend over the recently announced direct Mideast peace talks.
The meeting was meant to be another attempt at ending divisions going back to the militant Hamas group's violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, which left the more moderate Fatah movement in charge only of the West Bank.
According to the Sunday report, the meeting, which was to take place Saturday evening, was indefinitely postponed with Hamas official Salah Bardawil telling Ma'an that Fatah had "made it too difficult" for the meeting to take place.
Earlier Monday, Haaretz reported that PA President Mahmoud Abbas had warned that renewed Israeli construction in settlements after the end of the construction freeze in late September would bring the newly-launched direct negotiations to a grinding halt.
Abbas conveyed the message in letters sent to U.S. President Barack Obama, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and the High Representative of the European Union on Foreign Policy, Catherine Ashton.
"It's impossible to conduct negotiations alongside settlement construction," Abbas wrote.
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