On Tuesday, the party called the New York Times report "insidious and expected".

 

The report stated that the United States and Israel were considering a campaign to bring down a Hamas government by starving the Palestinian Authority of cash, but the US has denied the allegations.

 

Sean McCormack, a State Department spokesman, said: "There is no plan, there is no plot."

 

But Nayif Rajub, a Hamas spokesman for newly elected lawmakers in the southern West Bank, said: "We are not surprised by these insidious efforts since America and the Zionist state never really stopped trying to torment us and pressure us to succumb to Israel and give up our rights."

 

Rajub, a brother of former PA strongman Jibril Rajub, said Hamas was succeeding in finding "alternative financial aid" from Arab and Muslim sources.

 

"If we succeed in reforming our financial and administrative policies, we will be able to save a lot of money, and that would help us achieve a semblance of independence from American blackmail."

 

"There is no plan, there is no plot"

Sean McCormack,
State Department spokesman

Rajub said Israel would have to account to the world in case it chose to abort Palestinian democracy by arresting the newly elected members of parliament.

 

"If they arrested us and thwart the modicum of democracy that we have, that would be a clarion message to the international community that Israel is anti-democratic and a truly criminal occupier."

 

New York Times report

 

According to The Times, the goal of a US-Israel campaign would be to ensure the newly elected Hamas officials fail and new elections to be called by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.

 

McCormack said the State Department was puzzled by the newspaper's Jerusalem-dated report.

 

"We are not having conversations with the Israelis that we are not having with others, including the Quartet," he said referring to the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia, who are supporting a Middle East peace plan known as the road map.

 

McCormack reiterated what the United States and other members of the Quartet are demanding: that Hamas recognise Israel's right to exist, renounce terror and accept past agreements the Palestinians reached with the Israelis.

 

Palestinian democracy 

 

A senior PA foreign ministry official told Aljazeera.net that "all Palestinians, not just Hamas, reject efforts to undercut and corrode Palestinian democracy".

 

Hamas has said it will not give
'free recognition' to Israel

Abd Allah Abd Allah, the official in the PA foreign ministry, said: "We all strongly reject this unethical interference in Palestinian internal affairs. Hamas is a democratic movement and has come to power through a free and democratic election. The world should give it a chance."

 

He pointed out that Hamas was moving steadily towards "the Palestinian national consensus", adding that the gap between Fatah and Hamas was narrowing.

 

"I have to remind everybody that, not only Hamas, but Fatah as well insists on total Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967."

 

Hamas has repeatedly said it would not give Israel a free recognition.

 

Moderate view

 

Some of Hamas's more moderate leaders, such as Ismail Haniya and Aziz Duwaik, have argued that Israel will have to define its borders before Hamas can decide whether or not to recognise Israel.

 

Aziz Duwaik in an interview with Aljazeera.net last week said: "Which Israel do they want us to recognise? Is it Israel with the West Bank, Israel with the Golan Heights, Israel with East Jerusalem, Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates? Let Israel show us its borders, and then we talk about mutual recognition."

 

For its part, Israel said it would seek to build an international coalition against the "upcoming Hamas administration".

 

Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry, said: "The US, Israel, Australia and Japan as well as many other countries will not deal with Hamas until it recognises Israel's right to exist and abandon terror."  

 

"If they think they will be able to deceive us the same way they have been deceiving the PA, they are mistaken"

Nayif Rajub,
Spokesman for Hamas lawmakers

He refused to confirm or deny the New York Times report, but said Israel would deal with the Hamas-dominated government as a "terrorist entity".

 

"I think the upcoming period will be very difficult for everybody, it is going to be problematic. We simply can't accept Hamas as it is today."

 

Regev described as "rubbish" Hamas's argument that it is unfair and illogical to ask the movement to recognise Israel without a reciprocal Israeli recognition of Palestine.

 

"Israel recognises the Palestinian people's self-determination and we will negotiate the final borders."