GAZA CITY, Gaza, May 11 (UPI) -- A Hamas official says the militant group will never recognize Israel as it would deprive future Palestinian generations of the right to "liberate the land."
Mahmoud Zahar said Wednesday Hamas would be willing to accept a Palestinian state "on any part of Palestine," marking the first time Hamas has publicly stepped back from its stated goal of a Palestinian state "from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea," The Jerusalem Post reported.
However, Zahar said, Hamas would not recognize Israel, because doing so would "cancel the right of the next generation to liberate the land."
Recognition of Israel could lead to Palestinian refugees losing their right of return, he said.
"What will be the fate of the 5 million Palestinians in the diaspora?" Zahar asked.
Zahar's statements come amid efforts by former Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas to form a unity government after they signed a reconciliation agreement in Cairo last week, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.
On Tuesday, a top Palestinian official said a unity government would be formed in 10 days.