Thursday, February 04, 2010

Hamas wants talks with Americans, Europeans

Middle East Online, Feb 4, 2010



‘The establishment of a Palestinian state with the 1967 borders’

Ismail Haniya: Israel must recognise rights of Palestinian people before asking for recognition.

GAZA CITY – Hamas is ready for dialogue with the international community, including the United States and European Union, the leader of the democratically elected Palestinian movement Ismail Haniya said.

“Hamas is ready to dialogue with the world, international community, the US, the (Middle East) Quartet and the Europeans,” Haniya said Wednesday.

The resistance movement has been in power in the Israeli-besieged Gaza Strip since June 2007 after a routing out Fatah forces, to prevent a US-backed coup against Hamas’s democratic election.

Under pressure from Israeli lobbies, the US and the EU refuse to hold formal talks with the democratically elected movement, branding it a “terrorist” organisation.

One of the main obstacles to opening a dialogue is the Hamas’s refusal to officially recognise Israel. The Quartet demands an explicit recognition.

“They have to recognise us first, the right of the Palestinian people, we are the victims,” said the 48-year-old, who repeated that Hamas supports “the establishment of a Palestinian state with the 1967 borders.”

The Palestinians want their future state based on borders before the Israeli occupation of June 1967, which are recognosised by the international community, with its capital in East Jerusalem, a Palestinian territory under illegal Israeli occupation.

The Hamas prime minister said his movement had come “closer in political terms” to conditions issued by the Quartet — the US, EU, Russia and the United Nations — to open dialogue, including a “long-term ceasefire.”

Hamas has stopped resistance rocket attacks against Israel since a Hamas-Israeli ceasefire following the end of Israel’s devastating offensive against Gaza a year ago.

Haniya said he was determined to “establish Palestinian reconciliation and to have fair elections… in all Palestinian homes, including Jerusalem.”

Regarding “reconciliation, it is moving. It needs a strong push to reach a signature” with Fatah, the rival movement headed by Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas.

A senior Fatah official, Nabil Shaath, made a rare visit to the Gaza Strip on Wednesday in a bid to encourage stalled reconciliation efforts.

Shaath, a member of the central committee of Fatah, met with Khalil al-Hayya, a senior official from Hamas.

“We are one people, we have one homeland. Every Palestinian has the right to move in his own land at any time,” Haniya said. “If he (Shaath) asks for a meeting, we will do nothing to prevent it.”

After talks mediated by Egypt, Hamas has refused to sign a unity deal that was proposed by Cairo in October unless it is amended to reflect what the group says were previous understandings reached with Fatah.

Both Egypt and Fatah have said the deal is final.

In addition, relations between Hamas and Egypt have deteriorated recently after an armed confrontation at the Rafah border crossing that killed one Egyptian and wounded several Palestinians.

“What happened in Rafah did not affect the strategic relationships between Egypt and Hamas,” said Haniya, adding the “Egyptian role should continue and we welcome all Arab efforts for reconciliation, and Egypt has to be there.”

“It is no secret that the US and Israel do not want reconciliation but we are committed to reach it.”

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