View Full Version : Haniyeh: Hamas willing to accept Palestinian state with 1967 borders

11-10-2008, 08:20 AM
Last update - 07:59 09/11/2008

Haniyeh: Hamas willing to accept Palestinian state with 1967 borders

By Amira Hass, Haaretz Correspondent and News Agencies

The Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said on Saturday his government was willing to accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.

The Hamas leader spoke at a meeting with 11 European parliamentarians who sailed from Cyprus to the Gaza Strip to protest Israel's naval blockade of the territory. Haniyeh told his guests Israel rejected his initiative.

Clare Short, who served in the cabinet of former British prime minister Tony Blair, asked Haniyeh to repeat his offer. He said the Hamas government had agreed to accept a Palestinian state that followed the 1967 borders and to offer Israel a long-term hudna, or truce, if Israel recognized the Palestinians' national rights.

In response to a question about the international community's impression that there are two Palestinian states, Haniyeh said: "We don't have a state, neither in Gaza nor in the West Bank. Gaza is under siege and the West Bank is occupied. What we have in the Gaza Strip is not a state, but rather a regime of an elected government. A Palestinian state will not be created at this time except in the territories of 1967."

The parliamentary delegation was led by Baron Nazir Ahmed, who was born in Pakistan and is a member of the British House of Lords. Ahmed, Britain's second Muslim peer and the only one born Muslim, related how, 10 years ago, he was sworn into the House of Lords using a Koran. "And now you represent us," Haniyeh told him on Saturday.

Ahmed asked Haniyeh about Hamas' relations with Iran and requested his response to the claims of "our Zionist friends" that Hamas, like Iran, seeks to destroy the State of Israel and throw the Jews into the sea.

"Our ties with Iran are like those with other Muslim states. Does a besieged people that is waiting breathlessly for a ship to come from the sea want to throw the Jews into the ocean? Our conflict is not with the Jews, our problem is with the occupation," Haniyeh said.

The protest boat Dignity anchored at Gaza port Saturday morning, carrying nine MPs from Britain and Ireland, one from Switzerland and one from Italy. The parliamentarians sought to express their opposition to the Gaza blockade and see for themselves its effect on Gaza's population. The 11 were among a few dozen members of European parliaments who about two weeks ago were refused entrance to Gaza at the Rafah crossing by Egyptian officials.

This was the Dignity's third voyage from Cyprus to Gaza in 10 days, and the third time in three months the Free Gaza Movement organized a protest sail and visit to Gaza.

The peak of the group's first day in Gaza was their meeting with Haniyeh at his official guesthouse in Gaza City's exclusive Rimal area - formerly the guesthouse of Yasser Arafat. The two-hour meeting was a good-natured affair, at the end of which the parliamentarians noted their host's pleasant manner.

"Your visit proves that the Palestinian people is not alone in its struggle against the blockade and that many of the peoples of the free and cultured world support us," Haniyeh told his guests.

He explained to them why Hamas boycotted the talks with Fatah that were scheduled to begin on Sunday in Cairo. "We had 17 political detainees [from Fatah, held without trial and without being charged] being held in harsh conditions - I'm not proud of that," Haniyeh said. "They were released. We expected a similar measure from our brothers in Ramallah, but unfortunately the situation only worsened ahead of the meeting in Cairo."

According to Haniyeh, about 400 Hamas activists are being held in Palestinian Authority jails in the West Bank, and all requests to release them have fallen on deaf ears.

Haniyeh said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' statements to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her visit prove that the United States won't allow the two Palestinian factions to reach a reconciliation. He said the PA must shake off the "American fist" gripping it.

The European politicians took with them a ton of medical supplies and three medical scanners used for spinal injuries, said Arafat Shoukri, 37, a doctor based in Britain.

"We are taking very basic medical supplies like paracetamol and painkillers. We were shocked when we got the list from the Health Ministry in Gaza - it means they don't have anything," Shoukri said.

International aid agencies, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, have said virtually no medical supplies were reaching Gaza.


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11-10-2008, 08:23 AM
Listen to Hamas

By Haaretz Editorial

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, the ousted prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, described "the territories of 1967" as the territory of the Palestinian state "at this time." He told Haaretz correspondent Amira Hass that the Hamas government had previously made it clear that it was willing to accept a Palestinian state that followed the 1967 borders and to offer Israel a long-term hudna, or truce, if Israel recognized the Palestinians' national rights, as Haaretz reported Sunday.

At first glance, it appears Haniyeh was not saying anything fundamentally different from what he said two years ago. But Haniyeh's comments are imbued with special significance against the backdrop of recent events in the Gaza Strip and the exchanges of fire that put the current lull at risk, along with the presidential election results in the United States and Khaled Meshal's statements that Hamas is willing to negotiate with the new American government. This is also the case in light of the efforts to foster a reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas and the nearly completed term of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Israeli government remains staunch in its position that it will not hold political negotiations with Hamas - even though it is conducting indirect talks with Hamas that brought about a lull and are intended to lead to the release of Gilad Shalit. For its part, Hamas is not offering to recognize Israel or make peace with it. A long-term hudna and the establishment of a state along the 1967 lines "at this time" are the most to which the organization is willing to commit.

It would appear that a country aspiring to reach a comprehensive political agreement with the PA that will end the conflict cannot make do with the positions presented by Haniyeh. But it is too easy to dismiss his comments or stick to existing positions. The cumbersome and slow political negotiations with Abbas, and the Israeli foot-dragging, even when it comes to minimal humanitarian gestures toward the Palestinians, are not testaments to Israel's sincerity. The main achievement of this policy was the mobilization of international support for the Israeli position against Hamas, without giving practical specifications for a solution.

Even in the absence of a peace agreement, Israel has great interest in normal life on the Palestinian side and the possibility of conducting a practical dialogue and engaging in genuine cooperation with the Palestinian leadership on economic and security issues. Even right-wing leaders like Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Begin speak about an "economic peace" as a bypass road to political peace. But for such cooperation to work, Palestinian leadership is needed that represents all the Palestinian people and enjoys widespread legitimacy and authority.

To achieve this, the Palestinians must have a national reconciliation, and Israel must recognize any government established with Palestinian approval - even if its members belong to Hamas or other factions. The Israeli illusion that the West Bank will be able to continue to be calm while Gaza is blockaded and shelled will end up being shattered.

None of this is an alternative to political negotiations or concessions that Israel and the Palestinians must make to reach a final-status agreement. But Israeli recognition of any Palestinian government that is established is liable to lay a practical and stable foundation for cooperation, and perhaps even for deeper confidence that will advance the political process. Israel must therefore turn an attentive ear to the statements coming out of Gaza, and reexamine its policy.


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