Gaza City: The late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat urged Hamas to carry out attacks inside Israel when he felt peace talks had failed, a senior Hamas leader said in remarks published on Wednesday.
"Arafat signalled to the Hamas movement to carry out a number of military operations in the heart of the Jewish state when he felt that the negotiations with the occupation government had failed," Mahmud Zahar said, during a meeting with Hamas MPs yesterday, according to the Hamas-linked Falasteen newspaper.
He spoke on the 10th anniversary of the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, which engulfed the occupied territories months after the collapse of the 2000 Camp David peace talks.
His comments come as renewed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians again appear to be on the verge of collapse in the face of a dispute over Israeli settlements. Hamas opposes the new talks.
At the height of the uprising in 2002 Palestinian militants launched scores of suicide bombings in Israeli cities as Israel frequently carried out large-scale military incursions across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Arafat had always insisted that the uprising was a spontaneous reaction to the Israeli occupation and that he had no control over Hamas, the long-time rivals of his secular Fatah movement.