Israel and the Us engineered this 'crisis', and does not want it to end.
Last Updated: Monday, April 21, 2008 | 2:57 PM ET
The exiled leader of Palestinian militant group Hamas offered Israel a 10-year truce on Monday if it withdraws from lands it seized in the 1967 Mideast war as proof of recognition of a Palestinian state on those lands.
Khaled Mashaal said Hamas will accept the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, a departure from the group's customary claim to all of Israel, Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank for Palestinians.
Mashaal's comments appear to be the group's strongest indication of potential acceptance of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and came hours after former U.S. president Jimmy Carter said the group is prepared to accept the right of Israel to "live as a neighbour next door in peace."
"We accept a state on the June 4 line with Jerusalem as capital, real sovereignty and full right of return for refugees, but without recognizing Israel," Mashaal told reporters in the Syrian capital of Damascus, in reference to the June 4, 1967, line that has been cited in previous Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
But Mashaal said Hamas, whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel, would never outright formally recognize the Jewish state.
Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, held controversial talks last week with Mashaal and other Hamas officials in Syria, despite the disapproval of the Israeli and U.S. governments, which consider Hamas a terrorist organization.
In a speech in Jerusalem Monday, Carter said Hamas won't undermine Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's efforts to reach a peace deal with Israel, as long as the Palestinian people approved it in a referendum. In such a scenario, he said, Hamas would not oppose a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.
"There's no doubt that both the Arab world and Hamas will accept Israel's right to exist in peace within 1967 borders," Carter said.
Mashaal also said Hamas would "respect Palestinian national will even if it was against our convictions," in an apparent reference to the referendum plan.
Meanwhile on Monday, another Hamas spokesman, Abu Jandal, told a Hamas-linked newspaper that the militant group would carry out harsher attacks on Israel-Gaza crossings, saying last week's assaults that killed three Israeli soldiers were just "practice," according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Peace talks have 'regressed' since Annapolis summit: Carter
In his comments Monday, Carter said Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking has "regressed" since a U.S.-hosted Mideast conference in Annapolis, Md., in November.
Israel has been negotiating directly with Abbas, who heads a moderate government based in the West Bank. Abbas lost control of the Gaza Strip last June, when Hamas violently seized control of that territory.
During the Annapolis summit, Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledged to work toward a peace agreement by the end of this year.
But negotiations between the two sides have been sidetracked in recent months by Palestinian anger over Israel's failure to halt construction on settlements in the West Bank and plans to build in East Jerusalem neighbourhoods, as well as Israeli security concerns over continued militant rocket attacks launched from Gaza into Israel.
Although Israel regards Jerusalem as an integral part of its territory and subject to Israeli law, the international community, including Canada, the United States, Britain and the European Union, does not recognize the annexation of East Jerusalem and considers it to be occupied territory like the West Bank.
The former U.S. president also decried Hamas's refusal to renounce violence or its continued call for the destruction of Israel, but said no peace agreement could be reached if the U.S. and Israel continued to shut out Hamas and its main backer, Syria.
"The problem is not that I met with Hamas in Syria," he said. "The problem is that Israel and the United States refuse to meet with someone who must be involved."
He urged Israel to engage in direct negotiations with the militant group.
Over the weekend, 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.
The only senior Israeli official to meet with Carter during the former president's latest Mideast mission was Israeli President Shimon Peres. During their meeting, Peres scolded Carter for meeting Hamas.
Carter said Hamas has promised to let a captured Israeli soldier send a letter to his parents, and said the militant group "made clear to us that they would accept an interim ceasefire in the Gaza Strip."
He added Hamas assured him that Cpl. Gilad Schalit was in good condition. However, Carter said Hamas rejected his specific proposal for a month-long unilateral ceasefire.
Speaking about the possibility of renewed peace talks between Israel and Syria, he said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is "eager" to restart negotiations and wants the U.S. to play a "strong role" in bringing the two sides together.
(Israel doesn't want any 'peace' which would involve giving back any of what it has stolen since rejecting Partition.)
As Predicted: Israel says Carter effort at cease-fire with Hamas failed
Published: Tuesday, April 22, 2008 | 2:58 AM ET
Canadian Press: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
JERUSALEM - Israel says efforts by former U.S. president Jimmy Carter to work out a ceasefire with Gaza's Hamas rulers failed.
(This was predicted before the trip even started. Carter threatens the 'crisis' Israel created, which was designed to undermine the elected representatives of the Palestinians, in order to allow Israel's ruling Extremists to stall, or prevent outright, any negotiated settlement which would require having to accept their moral and legal responsibilities.)
Senior Defence Ministry official Amos Gilad says that Hamas presented nothing new in its demands for a truce during Carter's recent meetings with officials of the militant group. Gilad told Israel's Army Radio Tuesday that Mashaal had not budged in his demands, and thus the Carter mission failed.
(But note that it is Israel that is rejecting peace here, in not seeking to negotiate with Hamas, or accept these 'demands', which are quite reasonable.)
Carter called Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Damascus on Monday to get him to agree to a one-month truce without conditions.
But Mashaal rejected the idea.
Hamas ready to accept Israel as its neighbour: Carter
Zionists Don't Negotiate