Hamas: We Will Never Recognize the Enemy

Top Hamas officials make first public appearance in Gaza since Cast Lead as U.S. envoy meets Abbas in Ramallah.

Two top Hamas leaders made their first appearances at public events since Israel's Gaza war on Friday, signaling defiance of rival Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as he discussed peace prospects with a U.S. envoy.

"We cannot, we will not, and we will never recognize the enemy in any way, shape or form," Mahmoud Zahar, one of the two leaders, said in a mosque sermon broadcast on the Islamist movement's radio station.

Ismail Haniyeh, who heads the Hamas administration in Gaza, spoke at another mosque. As a precaution against assassination, both men had gone underground during a 22-day offensive Israel launched on Dec. 27 to counter Palestinian rocket fire. Their rare statements since have been mostly in pre-recorded speeches.

Hamas won a Palestinian legislative election in 2006, forming a unity government with Fatah that was dissolved by Abbas after the Islamists seized control of Gaza in 2007.

Egypt has been trying to arrange a new factional alliance after brokering an end to the Gaza war, which killed hundreds of Palestinian civilians and 13 Israelis, most of them troops.

Haniyeh, who was formerly prime minister under Abbas, hailed the conflict as a "big victory".

"Hamas is a big movement, the Palestinian resistance factions are deeply rooted among the people," he told reporters.