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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Aug 11th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Intelligence arrow Meshal offers 10-year truce for Palestinian state on '67 borders
Meshal offers 10-year truce for Palestinian state on '67 borders PDF Print E-mail
Written by By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent and News Agencies   
Monday, 21 April 2008

Hamas' political leader Khaled Meshal. (AP)
Hamas' political leader Khaled Meshal. (AP)

Hamas' political leader Khaled Meshal on Monday said Hamas would accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip along Israel's pre-1967 borders, and would grant Israel a 10-year hudna, or truce, as an implicit proof of recognition if Israel withdraws from those areas. Meshal's comments were one of the clearest outlines Hamas has given for what it would do if Israel withdrew from the territories it captured in the 1967 Six Day War. He suggested Hamas would accept Israel's existence alongside a Palestinian state on the rest of the lands Israel has held since 1948. However, Meshal told reporters in Damascus that Hamas would not formally recognize Israel.

"We agree to a [Palestinian] state on pre-67 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital with genuine sovereignty without settlements but without recognizing Israel," Meshaal said.

"We have offered a truce if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, a truce of 10 years as a proof of recognition," he said. He said he made the offer to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter during talks Friday and Saturday in the Syrian capital.

Meshal used the Arabic word hudna, meaning truce, which is more concrete than tahdiya - a period of calm - which Hamas often uses to describe a simple cease-fire. Hudna implies a recognition of the other party's existence.

A government spokesman also said Israel was unimpressed by Meshaal's statement.

"Israel is targeted on a daily basis by rocket barrages from Hamas controlled territory in the Gaza Strip. Israel sees no change in Hamas's extremist positions," said David Baker, a spokesman in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office.

In Washington, the U.S. State Department said there is no indication that Hamas wants peace with Israel. "It is pretty clear to us that there is no acceptance on the part of Hamas of any kind of negotiated settlement," said deputy spokesman Tom Casey.

Casey said there had been contradictory statements from Hamas officials over whether they would accept the result of a referendum on a peace deal.

Earlier in Jerusalem, Carter said that Hamas is prepared to accept the Israel's right to "live in peace" within 1967 borders.

"There's no doubt that both the Arab world and the Palestinians, including Hamas, will accept Israel's right to live in peace within the 1967 borders."

Hamas has previously claimed all of what is now Israel and the West Bank and Gaza, and its charter calls for the destruction of Israel. Meshal did not address whether the group would consider changing it. But his comments were one of the strongest Hamas statements in favor of a two-state solution.

"This is Hamas' clear vision," Meshal added. He said the future Palestinian state must have Jerusalem as its genuine, sovereign capital. He appeared to be referring to East Jerusalem, since Israel held west Jerusalem before 1967.

Carter's comments came after he met after he met last week with the top Hamas leaders, including Meshal, in Syria.

Carter was back in Jerusalem this week to brief Israeli leaders on his talks with Meshal regarding a proposed truce between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip as well as an exchange of prisoners between them.

Carter: Hamas would accept Israel-PA deal if Palestinians vote for it
The former U.S. president told reporters in Jerusalem on Monday that Hamas leaders said they would accept a peace agreement negotiated by their rival, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, if Palestinians approved the deal in a vote.

"They said they would accept a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders if approved by Palestinians ... even though Hamas might disagree with some terms of the agreement," Carter said in a speech, after talks in Syria and Egypt with Hamas leaders.

"It means that Hamas will not undermine Abbas' efforts to negotiate an agreement and Hamas will accept an agreement if the Palestinians support it in a free vote," he said.

But Carter said he was told by Hamas that a referendum on a peace deal must be preceded by reconciliation between the group and Abbas' Fatah faction. Hamas seized the Gaza Strip from Fatah in fighting in June.

A Hamas official in the Gaza Strip also referred to a series of preconditions raised by the Islamist group for assenting to a deal with Israel.

Sami Abu Zuhri said Palestinian refugees living in exile must be included in the voting - a condition that could complicate approval of a deal.

Abu Zuhri also noted that Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel, would regard any future Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Six Day War, as "transitional".

Speaking later to reporters, Carter said Hamas leaders whom he met "didn't say anything about transitional".

Unlike Abbas, who sought a Palestinian state side-by-side with Israel, Abu Zuhri said Hamas's outstanding position not to recognize Israel's right to exist remained unchanged despite of its acceptance of a state in 1967 borders.

Carter said Hamas turned down his proposal for a 30-day unilateral cease-fire with Israel but Egypt would continue its efforts to mediate a truce.

"I did the best I could on that," Carter said of his failure to persuade Hamas to halt rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

Carter: Hamas ready to release letter from Shalit
Carter also told Trade Minister Eli Yishai on Monday that Hamas was prepared to release another letter from abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit to his family.

According to Carter, Meshal has promised that Shalit - who was kidnapped by Hamas militants in a cross-border raid in June 2006 - is in good physical health.

Carter told Yishai that Hamas was prepared to transfer Shalit into Egyptian hands as part of a packaged deal which would include the release of Palestinian prisoners.

The former U.S. leader said the Islamists had no opposition to releasing the soldier as part of a prisoner swap. He also asked Yishai to consider meeting with officials in Egypt regarding Shalit's release.

Yishai responded that he has already met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the Egyptian intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, on the matter, but said he would consider another meeting.

The former U.S. leader told Yishai that Meshal had appreciated Yishai's offer to meet with the Islamist group regarding the Shalit deal, but did not want to compromise Egyptian mediation by doing so.

'Problem is refusal of U.S., Israel to meet Hamas'

Carter also told reporters following his return to Israel on Monday the "problem" was not his decision to meet with the Islamist group, but rather the refusal of Israel and the U.S. to do the same.

"The problem is not that I met with with Hamas in Syria. The problem is that Israel and the United States refuse to meet with someone who must be involved," the former U.S. leader said during a speech in Jerusalem.

He urged Israel to engage in direct negotiations with Hamas, saying failure to do so was hampering peace efforts.

"We do not believe that peace is likely and certainly that peace is not
sustainable unless a way is found to bring Hamas into the discussions in some way," he said. "The present strategy of excluding Hamas and excluding Syria is just not working."

In his comments Monday, Carter said Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking has
regressed since a U.S.-hosted Middle East conference in Annapolis, Maryland, in November.

Speaking about the possibility of renewed peace talks between Israel and
Syria, he said Syria wants the U.S. to play a strong role in bringing to two sides together.

Both the Israeli and U.S. governments disapprove of Carter's overtures to
Hamas. Over the weekend, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he decided not to meet with Carter in Israel because he does not wish to be seen as
participating in any negotiations with Hamas.

Related articles:
  • Syria 'eager' to restart Golan talks, says Carter
  • Talks with Hamas / One stage or many?
  • Meshal to announce decision over Carter truce proposals Sunday
  • Jimmy Carter: Israel must talk to everyone
  • Abbas says will discuss peace agreement with Bush Tuesday
  • ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Jimmy Carter Hamas Ready to Accept Israeli State - CNN



    US: Hamas truce offer meaningless

    Former US president Jimmy Carter ended his nine-day trip to the region with a promise from Hamas to offer Israel tacit recognition and a 10-year truce if Israel in turn withdrew to the pre-1967 borders.

    Khaled Mashaal, whose group has sworn to destroy Israel, told reporters in Damascus on Monday that Hamas would accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank with Israel as its neighbor, but stressed that his group would not formally recognize it, a move immediately dismissed by the USas meaningless.

    "We agree to a (Palestinian) state on pre-67 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital with genuine sovereignty without settlements, but without recognizing

    Israel," Mashaal said."We have offered a truce if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, a truce of 10 years as a proof of recognition."

    Mashaal said he made the offer to Carter during talks between the two men on Friday and Saturday in the Syrian capital.

    Mashaal used the Arabic word "hudna," meaning truce, which is more concrete than "tahadiyeh" - a period of calm - which Hamas often uses to describe a simple cease-fire. Hudna implies a recognition of the other party's existence.

    In Washington, deputy State Department spokesman Tom Casey brushed aside Hamas's offer, saying the group's past rhetoric contained "all this language about truces and other kinds of issues. But the bottom line is, Hamas still believes in the destruction of the state of Israel; they don't believe Israel has a right to exist," adding it was clear "that nothing has changed" in Hamas's attitude - including that the group still refuses to explicitly recognize Israel and denounce terrorism.

    The statements by Hamas followed Carter's visit to the region, during which he spent time in Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

    Carter angered both Israel and his own government by meeting with Hamas, which is considered by both countries to be a terrorist organization. It has carried out terror attacks in Israel, and has launched rockets against the country's southern border. It has also held Cpl. Gilad Schalit captive since June 2006.

    Top Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, refused to meet with Carter during his stay. But Carter, who ended his visit to the region on Monday, said that it was critical to talk to Hamas.

    The former president, who brokered a peace deal between Egypt and Israel in 1979, said repeatedly that in those meetings, as well as in others he held, he was simply on a fact-finding mission for the Carter Center, which he runs in the United States.

    But he did more then just receive information. He tried and failed to broker deals regarding a cease-fire with Hamas and the release of Schalit.

    He did, however, wrangle a promise from Hamas that it would send a letter from the young man to his parents.

    The gesture was acknowledged by Mashaal on Monday, who told reporters in Damascus that he had agreed to this "humanitarian" gesture out of respect for Carter.

    Schalit's father, Noam, who, along with his wife, spoke with Carter both before and after his strip to Damascus, said he would wait until receiving the letter before commenting on the gesture.

    Speaking to the Israel Council on Foreign Relations, Carter said that Hamas had rejected his proposal for a rapid prisoner exchange that would allow Schalit to be moved to Egypt in exchange for the release of people held by Israel not guilty of violent crimes, including politicians, women and children.

    "Hamas considered its negotiations through Egypt to be well advanced," and it had already made promises to the families of prisoners who are on the prisoner list that is already under discussion with Israel, Carter said.

    But, he added, Hamas would be willing to move Schalit to Egypt after the first part of that deal brokered with Egypt had been concluded.

    Israel has agreed to release 1,000 prisoners in exchange for Schalit, but the hold-up has been the identity of the prisoners on the list.

    Ofer Dekel, the official charged by Olmert with dealing with the kidnapped soldiers issue, was reported as saying Monday that he had not received a briefing about Carter's activities in Damascus and his talks with Mashaal, government sources said.

    They added it was clear that Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai would brief the government - and Dekel - on what he heard from Carter regarding Schalit.

    The two men met both before and after Carter's talks with Mashaal.

    Far from knocking Carter's efforts, Yishai had asked Carter to help arrange a meeting between him and Hamas to work on releasing Schalit.

    Carter told Yishai that Hamas was interested in such a meeting, but did not want to talk to him at this time, out of fear it would complicate already existing negotiations.

    But Carter said he would help Yishai arrange a meeting in Egypt with intelligence chief Omar Sullieman. Yishai also spoke with Carter about his involvement in a conference of Islamic and Jewish religious leaders.

    But, while Yishai wanted to work with Carter, one government official said the former US president had done more harm than good, even with the promise of a new letter. The Schalit family had previously received a letter from their son last June.

    According to this official, Hamas is dissatisfied that, despite holding Schalit for almost two years, they have not gotten what they want from the Israeli government - the release of high-profile terrorists - for his return.

    In an attempt to pressure the Israeli public to pressure the government, Hamas is interested in opening up another negotiating track which bypasses Dekel and the government, and goes directly to the public.

    Carter, the official said, serves this purpose, because the impression that things could move much faster if only another channel of communications were tapped is exactly the message Hamas wanted the Israeli public to hear.

    The official said it was clear that Hamas was using Carter for its purposes, and that Mashaal, who knew far in advance that Carter was coming to Damascus to meet him, could very well have had a letter to give the former president from Schalit. It's all about shaping Israeli public opinion, the official said.

    The official said that Hamas also used Carter to give it legitimization.

    The US and European Union position is that Hamas should not be engaged until it accepts three preconditions: recognizing Israel, disavowing terrorism and accepting previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.

    In comes Carter, the official said, and he meets Hamas without its having to pay any price, which is exactly what the organization wants to have happen with the rest of the world.

    But, during his Jerusalem speech, Carter defended his actions.

    "It was a small step forward to reassure Cpl. Schalit's parents that he is alive and well and will be writing them a letter soon," said Carter.

    He also reported that Hamas would accept any deal negotiated by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, even one they disagreed with, as long as it was approved by the Palestinian people through a referendum.

    "Let me underscore the significance of the statement. It means that Hamas will not undermine Abbas's efforts to negotiate the agreement," said Carter.

    More to the point, if the Palestinian people, through a referendum, agreed to recognize Israel, then Hamas, in effect, would do so as well, he said.

    But Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri in Gaza said Hamas's readiness to put a peace deal to a referendum "does not mean that Hamas is going to accept the result of the referendum."

    Such a referendum, he said, would have to be voted on by Palestinians living all over the world. They number about 9.3 million, including some 4 million living in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.

    A spokesman for Carter said the former president had already left the country and had no response to the comment.

    But during his speech, Carter acknowledged that he had failed in some respects during his talks with Hamas.

    The group had rejected his suggestion for a 30-day unilateral cease-fire, he said.

    "They met all day yesterday to consider this proposal. They finally decided that they were dependent on Egypt as an intermediary, and that progress which had been made already with Egypt should prevail. They couldn't terminate unilaterally, because they didn't trust Israel to follow up by lessening their attacks on Gaza and the West Bank," said Carter.

    Separately, Carter said that Hamas wants to negotiate an agreement with Abbas to create a government of national consensus with a unified professional security force for the West Bank and Gaza. The cabinet would be composed of technocrats, until another election was held.

    Hamas has also proposed that the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza be reopened with the help of EU monitors, as it was in the past, except that this time, Egypt, not Israel, would control it.

    With respect to Syria, where Carter met with President Bashar al-Assad and senior officials, Carter said that Syria wants to conclude a peace agreement with Israel as soon as possible.

    "I was impressed with their eagerness to complete an agreement on the Golan Heights. He [Assad] said that the only major difference in starting good faith talks was that Israel insisted that there be no public acknowledgement that the talks are going on, whereas Syria insisted that the talks being conducted would not be a secret."

    Carter said that 85 percent of the differences had been resolved, including borders, water rights, security zones and the presence of international forces. He chastised the US for opposing talks between Syria and Israel.

    Syria wants the US to play strong role, and "I hope that it will be done," said Carter.

    He said that he asked the Syrians about the fate of Israeli soldier Guy Hever, who went missing in 1997, while in the area of the Golan Heights. There are those who believe he is being held by Syria.

    Carter said the Syrians had no evidence of his whereabouts. They also said they knew nothing about the fate of kidnapped soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, both of whom were abducted by Hizbullah in July 2006.

    AP contributed to this report.

    This article can also be read at [ LINK ]

    Last Updated ( Tuesday, 22 April 2008 )
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