Hamas: Any International Presence Will Be Considered 'Occupation'

Spokesman calls for end to Kerry-brokered negotiations, says no Arab nation would accept violation of its sovereignty.

Hamas will treat any and all international presence in the Palestinian territories as an occupation force, Hamas spokesman Sammy Abu Zohari said Friday. Zohari was relating to the guidelines being included in U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's framework agreement regarding a future deal between Israelis and Palestinians.

"Once in a while, we hear of proposals regarding negotiations that include acceptance of the presence of an international force after the occupation's forces retreat...we in Hamas we will never accept such a presence, and we will regard them as occupation forces in every respect. John Kerry and the others should reconsider their positions, we did not grant our mandate to anybody to give up our rights."

Abu Zohari spoke during a rally Friday evening in the southern Gaza Strip, which called for the setting up of a unity coalition which would include all Palestinian factions that oppose the continuation of negotiations with Israel, and any agreement that would come about from them.

"We will cooperate actively to bring down this conspiracy. No Arab nation would accept such a violation of its sovereignty, or giving up of its territory."

Calling on PA President Mahmoud Abbas to pull out of the negotiations immediately, Abu Zohari said the framework being hammered out by Kerry is nothing but a conspiracy drawn up by the U.S. and Israel to try and "quash the Palestinian national struggle and what is left of its principles, following 20 years of negotiations that have not produced anything but illusions."

Palestinian negotiators have brought up the idea of an international force being positioned in the Jordan Valley and other areas Israel withdraws from, as part of a future agreement. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas specifically suggested there be an American-led NATO presence.

Abu Zohari called on Abbas to declare negotiations over, claiming he doesn't have a mandate to lead negotiations in the name of the Palestinian people, Hamas or any other faction, adding that Abbas should be more open about the details of negotiations with Israel.