Ismail Haniya, the prime minister and Hamas leader, made the comments at a rally of tens of thousands of banner-waving supporters on Friday.

He told the crowd in a packed football stadium: "We will not recognise Israel, we will not recognise Israel, we will not recognise Israel."

He ruled out a proposal by members of his own Hamas movement to form a new government of technocrats as a way of winning international support and ending a seven-month aid freeze.

He said: "There are new scenarios, such as an emergency government, a technocrat government, or early elections.

"They all aim at one thing, getting Hamas out of the government."

Options

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has the authority to dissolve the Hamas cabinet and replace it with an emergency government or to call early elections.  

"We say we will be in every government, we will stay in the government. We will not recognise Israel."

Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister

However, Abbas aides say he is not considering either option at the moment, fearing such moves would not have popular support.

An emergency government would also require the approval of parliament, which is controlled by Hamas.

No concessions

Haniya said Hamas remains willing to invite other parties into a coalition, but that it would not soften its positions.

He said: "We say we will be in every government, we will stay in the government."

He accused others of trying to impose their will on the Palestinians.

"They want a government with American and Israeli dimensions that implements external dictates, the so-called Quartet demands," he said, referring to the group of Mideast peacemakers, the US, UN, EU and Russia.

Haniya said his best offer to Israel was a temporary truce in return for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with its capital in Jerusalem, over which Israel claims complete sovereignty.

He also repeated demands for the release of thousands of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

Tension

The rally came at a time of increasing tension between the Islamic group Hamas and Abbas' Fatah party.

The dispute between the two groups erupted into gun battles last week, fueling concerns it could escalate into a full-fledged civil war.

Haniya has called for talks with
Abbas to defuse the crisis

Haniya called for Abbas to come to Gaza from his West Bank headquarters for talks to defuse the crisis.

He said: "Come here to Gaza to resume dialogue to protect the unity of our people."

Hamas won a parliamentary election in January, bringing the party into direct confrontation with Abbas, who controls some of the security forces and backs peace talks with Israel.

Checkpoint incidents

In the West Bank on Friday, Israeli troops and Palestinians scuffled at a checkpoint south of Jerusalem when hundreds of Muslims tried to enter the Israeli-occupied city for Friday prayers, witnesses said.

The Palestinians had arrived at the checkpoint, seeking to reach the Al Aqsa Mosque, Islam's third holiest site. When some 300 people began pushing forward, border police threw stun grenades to disperse the crowd.

A spokesman for the border police said nobody was injured in the incident.

During Ramadan, tens of thousands of Muslims attend prayers at the mosque.