Zahhar: “We presented our position to Suleiman, awaiting Israeli response”

April 21, 2008 9:39 AM Saed Bannoura Arab World, News Report, Peace process 0

Mahmoud Zahhar, one of Hamas political leaders, stated on Sunday that the movement presented its response to 15 questions presented by the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Omar Suleiman, regarding a truce deal, and added that Israel needs also to answer these questions.Zahhar added that any mediated deal should lead to ending the siege on Gaza and ending the Israeli assaults.

In an interview with the Al Quds Newspaper, Zahhar said that Hamas is currently holding consultation talks with its leaders in Palestine and in exile, including the detained Hamas legislators and officials.

He added that Hamas asked Suleiman to request an Israeli response to its questions regarding the truce, and added that the movement wants clear and straight-forward answers.

Zahhar also said that Egyptian officials are currently holding talks with the Israeli side and that he will be meeting with Suleiman after he returns from Syria.

Moreover, Zahhar said that Hamas presented a proposal regarding reopening the Rafah Border Terminal, adding that all of the obstacles were resolved except that Israel demands that the terminal should only be opened as part of a truce deal.

He also said that Hamas does not object to the presence of Palestinian Presidential Security forces at the crossing as long as their role is only protecting the European observers.

Zahhar added that the observers should not be in charge of weather the crossing opens or closes under Israeli influence and intervention.

Zahhar stated that the former US President Jimmy Carter asked Hamas to declare a unilateral truce but the movement told him that it has previous experiences with Israel as the movement, and other factions, previously declared unilateral truces but Israel continued its assaults and violations.

He said that any truce deal should be bilateral and should be a comprehensive deal under Egyptian supervision.

He further said that Hamas will discuss on Monday the proposals of Carter regarding the truce and will present its official position.

Responding to a question by Carter, Zahhar said that if a comprehensive peace deal is achieved with Israel, and if this deal was subject to public referendum, then Hamas will accept whatever the people decide as long as this referendum includes all Palestinians in Palestine and in exile.

On Friday, Egyptian Foreign Minister, Omar Abu Al Gheit, said revealed an Egyptian plan which aims at achieving calm in the region.

As for talks over the release of the captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, Zahhar said that indirect talks under Egyptian supervision are ongoing but no progress was made.

The plan includes the opening of the Rafah Terminal, releasing 400 Palestinian detainees in exchange to releasing Shalit, and achieving a ceasefire deal.

 Abu Al Gheit said that the Egyptian government wants to achieve a period of calm which would enable Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to achieve a peace deal under American mediation.

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Saed Bannoura

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