JERUSALEM, Israel -- Hamas, the Palestinian faction ruling the Gaza Strip, wants to shed its designation as a terror group.
An offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas officials are working behind the scenes to reestablish ties with the U.S. and Europe, the Egyptian Independent on Monday.
Senior Hamas official Ahmed Youssef told the Palestinian Authority's official Ma'an news agency its removal as a terror group is just "a matter of time."
"There are contacts [being] made by the movement, with the help of Arab and Islamic countries such as Qatar, Egypt and Turkey, to convince major and European countries to take Hamas' name out of the terrorism list," Ma'an quoted Youssef as saying.
Regarding the Quartet's (U.S., E.U., U.N. and Russia) demand that Hamas recognize Israel's right to exist before removing it from the terror list, Youssef said "we will not recognize this condition."
The Hamas leader also said rockets fired at southern Israel from the Gaza Strip were not aimed at Israeli civilians. Youssef also said international law supports the group's "armed struggle" against the Israeli occupiers, "but Western countries are biased in favor of Israel."
"It is not reasonable for the Western countries to support Islamist regimes in Tunisia and Egypt and continue to boycott Hamas, which is out of the womb of these Islamist movements, and keep it on the list of terrorism," he concluded.