Hamas: No room to implement long-term truce with Israel
Group official Zahar does not discount possibility, but says for now 'no-one to talk about it with on Israeli side.'
Hamas will not implement a long-term truce with Israel for the time being, a senior official of the Islamist organization said Sunday.
The offer "was not canceled," Mahmoud al-Zahar said, but added that there was "no room to implement it for the time being" since "there is no one to talk about this proposal with on the other [Israeli] side."
He said a long-term truce was "a project that can be developed when there are intentions."
The Hamas long-term truce offer was first made by the organization's late spiritual advisor, Ahmed Yassin, who suggested a 20-year-long ceasefire, without recognizing Israel's right to exist, in return for an Israeli withdrawal from lands captured in the 1967 Six-Day war.
Zahar's remarks were made a day after Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said his government could accept a Palestinian state only in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, the territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war.
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.