"Negotiations are not our intention, negotiation is a method," Mahmoud al-Zahar told public radio on Wednesday, speaking in English.

"If the method is able to liberate our land, to liberate our people from Israeli jails, to reconstruct what was destroyed by the long-standing Israeli occupation, at that time we can discuss," he said.

Neither did he rule out negotiations after Palestinian legislative elections in January, when asked about the prospects of talks in the future.

"It depends on the other side, because the Israelis are not intending to make negotiation ... . Let us wait and see after the elections," he said.

Al-Zahar called on Israel to withdraw from the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem for its own "dignity" and "to give the Palestinians a chance to live as human beings".

He ruled out any possibility of Hamas disarming, as demanded by Israel, and called Israel a foreign body in the Middle East.

Israel has criticised Hamas' participation in the Palestinian elections on 25 January.