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Hamas assails US over regime change report
Updated: 2006-02-14 19:40

Hamas derided the United States and Israel on Tuesday following reports they were exploring ways to topple the militants' incoming government.

Hamas assails US over regime change report
Mahmoud Zahar, a leader of the militant Islamic group Hamas, talks during a meeting in Cairo, Egypt Monday, Feb. 13, 2006. Zahar continues to refuse to recognize Israel or disarm despite international threats to cut off desperately needed aid, Zahar said Monday, maintaining his movement did not need the 'satanic' U.S. money. [AP]

Israeli security officials said they were looking at ways to force Hamas from power, and were focusing on an economic squeeze that would prompt Palestinians to clamor for the return of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' ousted Fatah Party. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.

But Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said, "There is no such plan."

The New York Times, citing anonymous U.S. and Israeli officials, reported Tuesday that the United States and Israel were considering a campaign to starve the Palestinian Authority of cash so Palestinians would grow disillusioned with Hamas and bring down a Hamas government.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Stewart Tuttle had no immediate comment.

The reports came a day after the outgoing Fatah parliament gave sweeping new powers to Abbas, allowing him to set up a sympathetic court that would be able to veto Hamas legislation unchallenged.

Mushir al Masri, a Hamas spokesman and incoming legislator, said attempts to bring down a future Hamas government were hypocritical.

"This is ... a rejection of the democratic process, which the Americans are calling for day and night," al Masri said. "It's an interference and a collective punishment of our people because they practiced the democratic process in a transparent and honest way."

"We need a firm Islamic and Arabic position to confront this challenge," al Masri added.

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