Hamas leader and Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Ismail Haniyeh says his militant group is ready to recognize Israel, if Israel gives the Palestinian people a state on lands occupied since the 1967 war.
In an interview with the Washington Post newspaper, Haniyeh said Hamas -- which swept to power in parliamentary elections last month -- does not hold any animosity towards Jews.
In Haniyeh's words, "We do not wish to throw them into the sea. All we seek is to be given our land back, not to harm anybody."
Hamas, whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel, has launched dozens of suicide bombings against Israeli targets in recent years.
Israel, the United States and the European Union have classified the group as a terrorist organization, and Washington has moved to cut off funding to the Palestinian government, once Hamas forms a Cabinet.
But Saturday, U.S. Middle East envoy David Welch said the United States will continue humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, even after Hamas forms the next government.
Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip last year, after a 38-year occupation. But it has vowed to maintain control of East Jerusalem and major West Bank settlements. Israel has also said it will never allow several million Palestinians who fled the 1948 war or their descendants to return home to what today is Israel.