Sunday, April 27, 2008

Mashaal: Truce a 'tactic' in Palestinian struggle

Hamas leader tells al-Jazeera ceasefire with Israel part of 'normal' strategy for 'any resistance'

Associated Press
Israel News

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said Saturday that the group would accept an Egyptian-proposed ceasefire with Israel but it would be a "tactic" In the group's struggle with the Jewish state.

The Damascus-based Mashaal said in an interview with al-Jazeera television that Egypt

had proposed a six-month truce between the Hamas rulers of Gaza and Israel. He said his group was ready to cooperate but added: "It is a tactic in conducting the struggle. ... It is normal for any resistance that operates in its people's interest ... to sometimes escalate, other times retreat a bit...the battle is to be run this way and Hamas is known for that," he said. "In 2003, there was a cease-fire and then

the operations were resumed."

Waiting for Israel's response to truce offer

Earlier Saturday, Mashaal said that Hamas is still waiting for Israel's official response to the group's sixtruce offer. During a press conference in Qatar, Mashaal said he had asked for a written commitment from Israel to open all of Gaza's border crossings, including the one at Rafah.

Hudna Offered

Hamas Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told London's Al-Quds Al-Arabi that if a truce is not reached the region could see unprecedented violence. During the phone interview, Abu Zuhri warned Israel against any attempt to place obstacles in the path of the truce efforts, and said that if the Egyptian efforts fail, "all possibilities will be open to Hamas."

'No negotiations with Hamas'
According to Abu Zuhri, Israel's current position is not serious. While Mashaal awaits an answer from Jerusalem, security officials have stated that there are no current negotiations with Hamas, and that security forces are continuing their fight Palestinian terrorism.

The officials said there will be no negotiations with Hamas until the organization changes its policy in line with the international community's three conditions: Recognizing Israel's right to exist, ending terror, and honoring the Palestinian Authority's agreements with Israel.

On Thursday Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar called a press conference following his meeting with the head of intelligence in Egypt, in which he declared that Hamas would offer a six-month truce in exchange for the opening of all border crossings. "The ball is in Israel's court now," he said.

Roee Nachmias and AFP contributed to the story

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