Hamas rejected on Wednesday direct Israeli—Palestinian negotiations and accused both the U.S. and Israel of wanting to prolong Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Commenting on calls by President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the need for Israelis and Palestinians to move from indirect to direct talks, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that “going to such negotiations give cover to the (Israeli) occupation.” Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu made the call in a meeting at the White House on Tuesday. The US leader praised Israel for easing its four—year—old blockade of the Gaza Strip, by now allowing the flow of most consumer goods into the impoverished area.

Mr. Abu Zuhri, however, said that “Obama’s statements concerning easing the Israeli occupation siege of the Gaza Strip and welcoming it, means that both Israel and the United States want to keep it imposed on the Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip.” “We want the siege to be completely lifted,” he said.

Hamas, which won the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, and seized military control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, wants Israel replaced with an Islamic state in all of historic Palestine.

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