Hamas rejects disarmament talk ahead of reconciliation deadline

Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, speaks during a press conference in Gaza City on November 27. The Islamist group Hamas is vowing to expand its militant activities in the West Bank in response to demands for its disarmament in Gaza. (Adel Hana, AP)
Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, speaks during a press conference in Gaza City on November 27. The Islamist group Hamas is vowing to expand its militant activities in the West Bank in response to demands for its disarmament in Gaza. (Adel Hana, AP)

Gaza City - Palestinian movement Hamas again refused to disarm on Monday ahead of a key reconciliation deadline, instead threatening to carry out attacks against Israel in the West Bank.

By Friday, the Islamists are due to hand over control of the Gaza Strip to the internationally recognised Palestinian government, based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

But the future of their armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, remains unclear.

"The weapons of the resistance are a red line that is non-debatable," Khalil al-Hayya, deputy head of Hamas in Gaza, told a press conference, referring to the Qassam Brigades.

"These weapons will be moved to the West Bank to fight the occupation. It is our right to resist the occupation until it ends."

Around 400 000 Israelis live in the West Bank, in settlements considered illegal under international law, alongside around three million Palestinians.

In Gaza, which Hamas has ruled since seizing it in 2007, there are no settlers after Israel withdrew in 2005.

The United States and Israel have said they will reject any reconciliation agreement leading to a unity government including Hamas unless it disarms.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has also said there will only be one security force in the Palestinian territories.

The reconciliation agreement signed on October 12 in Cairo does not specify a future for the Qassam Brigades.

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