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Hamas reiterates all of Palestine claim

The Islamist Hamas group in the Gaza Strip on Monday reiterated its aim to recover all of historic Palestine from the Mediterranean to Jordan, as it prepared to mark its 23rd anniversary.

Ismail Haniyeh, the senior Hamas leader in Gaza, had said on December 1 that the organization would accept a peace deal with Israel if the Palestinian people approved it in a referendum.

"We say that Palestine from the sea to the [Jordan] river is fully the land of the Palestinians. We will cede none of it, and we will not recognize the so-called state of Israel," Hamas said in a statement.

It added that its intention was to make Jerusalem the "capital of the state of Palestine," and pledged "the failure of all methods of Judaization" of the holy city by Israel.

On December 1, Haniyeh said: "We accept a Palestinian state with full sovereignty on the land occupied in 1967 with Jerusalem as its capital and a solution to the issue of refugees."

His statement had appeared to signal a shift in the group's long-standing policy of refusing to accept either Israel's legitimacy or any peace treaty negotiated by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006, defeating Abbas' Fatah party. Long-standing tensions between the rivals boiled over in June 2007, when the Islamist group's forces routed Fatah and seized control of Gaza.

-AFP/NOW Lebanon