Hamas Ready for Truce if Israel Withdraws Troops and Settlers

February 8, 2006 6:32 PM IMEMC & Agencies Diplomacy, News Report, Palestine 0

In an interview with BBC Radio Wednesday, Syrian-based leader-in-exile of the Hamas party, Khaled Mashal, said that Hamas would be willing to accept a "long-term truce" with Israel if Israeli troops and settlers withdraw to the ‘Green Line’ border established in 1967.
"We now say that if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, there could be peace and security in the region and agreements between the sides until the international community finds a way to solve everybody’s problems," said Mashal.

This offer for peace by Hamas comes after three days of aerial missile attacks on the Gaza Strip by Israeli forces that have killed eleven.  No retaliatory strikes have been made by Hamas against Israel, although unknown persons fired homemade shells at the Israeli town of Sderot Saturday and Tuesday, injuring two.

While Hamas leaders in the West Bank called for restraint among their members, to not respond to the Israeli aggression with violence, the ongoing assassinations and air strikes by Israel are creating a lot of tension in the targeted Palestinian population.  

Mashal’s statement Wednesday is the first indication since the party’s electoral victory on Jan. 25th that they may be willing to accept the existence of the state of Israel on Palestinian land.  Agreeing to the 1967 borders would be in accordance with the existing ‘roadmap to peace’ plan.  However, Israel’s actions in expanding West Bank settlements over the last year have been in direct contradiction to the plan.  Israel agreed to remove settlements established after 2001, however, according to the latest figures, settlement expansion has accelerated at four times the rate of population growth within the borders of Israel proper.

The exiled Hamas leader made clear that any ‘truce’ would have to deal with the ‘right of return’ for the 3.5 million Palestinian refugees that are currently scattered in diaspora throughout the earth.  Said Mashal, "…There’s a Palestinian reality the international community must deal with. There are those kicked out of their land in 1948, the international community must find a solution for those people."

And any truce with Israel, Mashal stated, would require that Israel recognize the Palestinians and their right to self-determination: "When Israel changes, come and ask me to change," he added.

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