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MID: Hamas leader rejects Israel's conditions for Gaza truce

16 Jan 2009 11:42 PM

DOHA, Jan 16 AFP - Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said on Friday the Islamist movement will not accept Israel's terms for a Gaza truce.

"I assure you, despite all the destruction in Gaza, we will not accept Israel's conditions for a ceasefire," he said in the Qatari capital Doha where he was attending a regional summit on the Gaza crisis.

"We tell our loved ones in Gaza, the (Israeli) agression will soon perish on the rock of your steadfastness," Meshaal said at the meeting.

Qatar pressed ahead with a summit on Friday on Israel's deadly offensive against Gaza despite the absence of the Palestinian leadership and regional heavyweights Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

"Our demands are: That the agression stops; that the enemy retreats completely from Gaza; that the blockade is lifted without ever returning to it; and that the border crossing at Rafah is opened," Meshaal said, adding that only Egyptian and Palestinian forces should supervise the border.

The presence of Hamas's leadership and the absence of the Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmud Abbas, highlights the divisions between the Arab countries, with Qatar and Syria backing Hamas and Egypt and Saudi Arabia supporting Abbas.