Monday, November 10, 2008
Al-Zahar rejects possibility of long-term truce with Israel
Day after Hamas leader Haniyeh says Islamic group will never accept Palestinian state unless it means return to '67 borders, another top Hamas official says movement has no intentions of implementing far-reaching ceasefire as 'there is no one to talk to on the Israeli side'
Hamas will not implement a long-term truce with Israel for the time being, a senior official of the Islamist organization said Sunday.
The offer "was not cancelled," Mahmoud al-Zahar said, but added that there was "no room to implement it for the time being since "there is no one to talk about this proposal with on the other (Israeli) side."
He said a long-term truce was "a project that can be developed when there are intentions."
The Hamas long-term truce offer was first made by the organization's late spiritual advisor, Ahmed Yassin, who suggested a 20-year-long ceasefire, without recognizing the Jewish state's right to exist, in return for an Israeli withdrawal from lands captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
Zahar's remarks were made a day after Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said his government could accept a Palestinian state if it only in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem - territories Israel captured in the 1967 Six Day War. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
Haniyeh made his statements at a meeting with 11 European parliamentarians who sailed into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip to 'break' Israel's blockade on the territory.
He said Israel rejected his offer, which also included a long-term truce.
A June 19 truce between Israel and the Gaza militant groups, Hamas included, was severely battered this week after Israel killed six gunmen when it destroyed a tunnel being dug under the Gaza-Israel border, and the armed groups responded with rocket barrages on southern Israel