Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a Hamas leader imprisoned by Israel, dismissed reports by the Israeli daily Haaretz in which the paper claims he said Hamas would negotiate with Israel.

Haaertz reported in its online edition an interview with Yousef and alleged that he said that if Hamas wins the Palestinian Parliamentary elections, it will defiantly negotiate with Israel.

Yousef, on the other hand, told Palestine News Network (PNN) in a phone call from his jail in the Negev desert, what Haaretz published was not accurate saying that what he said in that interview was the “the negotiations is the responsibility of the President of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and the government is not obliged to negotiate with the Israeli occupation, in addition, until this moment Hamas did not decide to contest the presidential elections, because if it wins, it will be obliged to hold negotiations with the Israeli occupation.”

Yousef also said “The Palestinian Government may negotiate with the Israelis only over day-to-day issues.  PM Ismael Haniya gave green light to ministers whose tasks involve some meetings with Israelis, and it is limited to day-to-day issues only.”

He reaffirmed what he said before that the task of negotiations is the PLO’s and added, “The people have chosen us, and will stand to our responsibility and will honestly protect the rights of the Palestinian people, negotiations is not on our agenda so there will not be an overlap between the Government and the Presidency.”

Yousef, known to be among the moderate leaders in Hamas, was arrested in Ramallah when an Israeli special unit invaded his house in Ramallah more than a year ago.  He is accused of inciting to kidnap Israelis to exchange them with Palestinian prisoners, something that his lawyer completely dismissed saying that he is arrested for political reasons.