Hamas: Truce On 1967 Borders Possible

Top Hamas exiled leader Khaled Meshaal gives a press conference in Cairo 08 February 2006. Meshaal said that Hamas could agree to a "long-term truce" with Israel only if it is willing to return to the 1967 borders and recognise the rights of Palestinians to self-determination. Getty Images

Khaled Meshaal, the political leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, said Wednesday that a long-term truce with Israel would be possible, if it accepted conditions including a return to its 1967 borders.

However, they rejected demands by their Egyptian hosts to recognize Israel, describing recognition as out of the question, reports .

"Hamas will not recognize Israel," Mashaal said. "We will not give legitimacy to occupation."

That position is making it hard for Hamas, which seeks Israel's destruction, to form a new government with the more moderate Fatah party, Berger reports. The participation of Fatah would help Hamas win international legitimacy, but Fatah says it won't join Hamas unless the latter accepts the peace process.

Meanwhile, acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday that Israel will retain its main West Bank settlement blocs and all of Jerusalem when its permanent borders are drawn, but will give up parts of the West Bank where most Palestinians live.

Israel had part of Jerusalem before 1967's Six Day War, but occupied the rest of it in that war and annexed it in 1981. The international community considers East Jerusalem to be occupied territory. Both Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital.

And the militant Islamic Jihad group, which carried out six suicide bombings against Israelis in the past year, rejected the idea of a long-term truce with Israel, saying attacks will continue.

An Islamic Jihad leader, Khaled Batch, also said his group would not join a Hamas government. Islamic Jihad, funded in part by Iran, boycotted last month's parliament vote.

Batch's comments signaled that even if international pressure succeeds in persuading Hamas to moderate its violent ideology, other Palestinian radicals are not likely to follow suit.

In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp., Meshaal also said Hamas would not renounce violence since it believed that resistance against what it considers an occupation is legal.

Meshaal said he wanted to send a message to the next Israeli government that Hamas would be ready to talk, if Israel met conditions that included a withdrawal to the boundaries that Israel had until the 1967 Middle East war.

Hamas would then "possibly give a long-term truce with Israel," he told the BBC.

"This is a position that Hamas could take, but not now, only after Israel recognizes the rights of the Palestinians, to show and confirm its willingness to withdraw to the 1967 borders," he said.

Meshaal said such a move by Israel could create conditions for the international community to find a solution for all of the region's problems.
  • Sean Alfano

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