Hamas rejects Mofaz call to talk as 'Zionist vulgarity'
Kadima MK urges talks, envisions Palestinian state with provisional borders on 60% of West Bank.
The Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip said Sunday that they would never negotiate with the "Zionist enemy", hours after Kadima MK Shaul Mofaz presented a plan to hold talks with the group and establish a Palestinian state in 60 percent of the West Bank within one year.
In its official response, Hamas called Mofaz's offer "Zionist vulgarity" and said it would never recognize Israel or give legitimacy to the occupation.
"Any negotiation with the Zionist enemy regarding rights and legitimate recognition would only give it further excuse to commit crimes," said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.
The former IDF chief of staff earlier Sunday urged dialogue with the Islamist Palestinian group, saying that "at the moment that Hamas sit down at the negotiating table, assuming that Hamas are elected and want to talk, they accept the Quartet's guidelines and are no longer a terrorist organization."
Speaking at a press conference at which he presented his diplomatic plan, Mofaz explained that "the state of Israel must sit down with any group that changes its priorities."
"I believe that responsible leaders sit down with such groups," he continued. "I know that Hamas continues to fire and amass long-range missiles and prepare for conflict with Israel, and I want to tell Hamas leaders that if they continue on this path, their fate will be decided."
Mofaz developed his proposal following consultations with figures in the defense establishment, the heads of think tanks and politicians. He contends that the stalemate in the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians is dangerous from a demographic standpoint and with respect to Israel's legitimacy in the world.
Mofaz's declaration upset some of his fellow Kadima members, who said he should have consulted with the party before presenting a plan of his own. "If he has a diplomatic plan, he should have presented it to the party," said one party member.
According to the Mofaz plan, in the initial stage of the establishment of a Palestinian state with provisional borders there would be no need to uproot Jewish settlers in the West Bank, but legislation would be enacted to show Israel's serious intent, providing for the subsequent relocation in the Galilee and in West Bank settlement blocs of about 70,000 residents of isolated settlements.
Mofaz has not excluded the possibility that outlying Jerusalem neighborhoods would eventually become part of the independent Palestinian state.
Mofaz accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of stalling the Middle East peace process and of wasting time that the country doesn't "have the privilege to waste."
Mofaz's proposal is a challenge not only to Netanyahu but also to his own party's leader, Tzipi Livni.
The Mofaz plan provides a centrist, pragmatic approach. He intends to initiate a debate on his plan at a meeting of the Kadima party council.
From a political standpoint, Mofaz has signaled that he has no interest in returning to Likud and that he seeks to make a bid for the leadership of Kadima.