In an interview with Aljazeera from Cairo on Sunday night, Mishaal said "when the enemy withdraws from Gaza, we, as Palestinian factions, will agree on a programme and reach a unified position [on what to do]. Hamas, along with other forces, will then remain committed in accordance with higher national interests."

"[Ariel] Sharon has promised to withdraw. Let him withdraw from Gaza, a precious part of Palestinian land. This is not our only Palestinian right, it is a part of it," the head of Hamas' political bureau said.

Mishaal made a surprise visit to Cairo for discussions with Egyptian officials on the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and the formation of a united Palestinian government.

Continued occupation

He has kept a low profile since the assassination of other senior Hamas leaders, Shaikh Ahmad Yasin and Abd Al-Aziz al-Rantisi earlier this year.

Hamas: Israeli withdrawal from
occupied land is a Palestinian right

Mishaal, who met Egypt's intelligence chief, Umar Sulayman, said it was "not in our interest to speak today of what we will do, when Sharon is still in Gaza, assassinating, raiding and occupying our land".

He was dismissive of plans to streamline the Palestinian security apparatus as envisioned in the "road map" peace plan.

"There is nothing shameful about building the security apparatuses, but not on the basis of disarming the resistance," he said.

Road map

Rather, he added, the Palestinian security apparatus "should prevent chaos and internal conflicts and serve the Palestinian citizen in facing the enemy".

"It should not be like the road map or what the United States and Israel want. They want a security [apparatus] that protects Israel, whips the Palestinians and disarms the resistance."

Egyptian officials said Mishaal would meet an Egyptian committee of intelligence and Foreign Ministry officials on Monday before leaving Cairo.

Last week, high-level talks between senior Egyptian and Palestinian security officials were held in Egypt.  

Palestinians killed 

A senior Hamas member died in
an Israeli missile strike on his car

Israeli occupation soldiers shot  and killed an unarmed Palestinian in the Gaza Strip overnight,
Aljazeera's correspondent has reported. 

An Israeli source said troops fired at a Palestinian spotted crawling towards an army outpost on a road leading to a Jewish settlement bloc in central Gaza late on Sunday. Soldiers later found that the man had no weapon, the source said.

Soldiers also shot and wounded two Palestinians near Gaza City on Monday as the men tried to bypass a closed beach road outside the Netzarim settlement, Palestinian medics said.

The shootings occurred shortly after Israel killed a senior Hamas commander in an air strike on Sunday, accusing him of having played a key role in making crude Qassam rockets. An Israeli helicopter fired two missiles at his car.

Early on Monday, resistance fighters fired a rocket at the southern Israeli town of Sderot, hitting a residential area, but causing no casualties.