Hamas: Cease-fire Is a Viable Option

Hamas leaders openly declared their willingness this weekend to enter a temporary cease-fire (hudna) with Israel, for the first time since the establishment of the movement in 1987. If such a cease-fire is attained, it would mean a cessation of terror attacks against civilians in Israel.

Hamas leaders openly declared their willingness this weekend to enter a temporary cease-fire (hudna) with Israel, for the first time since the establishment of the movement in 1987. If such a cease-fire is attained, it would mean a cessation of terror attacks against civilians in Israel.

A senior Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, who usually represents movement hardliners, said on Friday: "The Hamas movement is prepared to stop terror against Israeli civilians if Israel stops killing Palestinian civilians ... We have told (Palestinian Authority Prime Minister) Abu Mazen in our meetings that there is an opportunity to stop targeting Israeli civilians if the Israelis stop assassinations and raids and stop brutalizing Palestinian civlilians."

Rantisi immediately hedged his statement by saying: "We have made it clear to Abu Mazen that we would not stop targeting Israeli soldiers and settlers."

Hamas would agree to the hudna even though it perceives the road map to peace, which Abu Mazen is trying to promote, as "a disaster for the Palestinian people that was the outcome of a Western plot against him, designed to stop military Palestinian opposition to the occupation," Rantisi said.

Rantisi's statement came after other Hamas spokesmen expressed similar views in closed meetings during the last few days and reported a positive atmosphere in a meeting with Abu Mazen in Gaza last Thursday.