Hamas leader: We will accept a Palestinian state within 1967 lines
Meshal tells Wall Street Journal Hamas will accept 'any international peace initiatives.'
Hamas leader-in-exile Khaled Meshal says the Islamic militant group is ready to accept a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines, according to an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Friday.
"We along with other Palestinian factions in consensus agreed upon accepting a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines," Meshal told the Wall Street Journal, adding "this is the national program. This is our program. This is a position we stand by and respect."
Meshal is quoted as saying that Hamas would accept international peace initiatives, saying "Hamas and other Palestinian groups are ready to cooperate with any American, international or regional effort to find a just solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, to end the Israeli occupation and to grant the Palestinian people their right of self-determination."
The Hamas leader, speaking to the Wall Street Journal from his home in exile in Syria, called a freeze to Israeli settlement activity 'a necessary step' but said it is 'not the solution itself.'
In regard to Israel's leadership, Meshal said "I don't care about Israel?it is our enemy and our occupier and it commits crimes against our people", adding "don't ask me about Israel, Israel can talk for itself."
Mark Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday wrote off Meshal's statements, saying "anyone who has been following Khaled Meshaal's comments over the last few months sees clearly that despite some attempts to play with language in a cosmetic way to give the impression of possible policy moderation, he remains rooted in an extremist theology which fundamentally opposes peace and reconciliation."
The United States on Friday also dismissed Meshal's comments, saying that actions rather than words would determine Hamas' future participation in the peace process.
Hamas, which has been designated as a terrorist organization by the West, has been shunned for its refusal to recognize Israel, abide by past agreements signed between the Palestinians and Israel, and renounce violence.
"In the intervening time, if [Meshal] wants to actually take actions that can improve the situation in the Middle East, he can start by declaring a ceasefire and by releasing Gilad Shalit," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Philip Crowley said on Friday.
"We will be focused on actions, not words," Crowley said. "And the Quartet (the U.S., UN, Russia, and EU) principles guide our approach to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and anyone who wants to participate in that process."
"So if Mr. Meshal is prepared to renounce terror and violence, if he's prepared to recognize Israel, if he's prepared to accept previous agreements, including the road map, then that would be a positive step," Crowley said.