Hamas FM: 3Rd Party Could Broker Talks With Israel

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar said yesterday there is no reason other parties cannot broker negotiations between the Hamas-led PA government and Israel. He was speaking to Al Jazeera TV.

It was the first time since the establishment of the new Hamas government that Zahar mentioned the possibility of negotiations between the PA and Israel. The foreign minister's change of tone is believed to follow a "harsh" conversation between him and PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

In contrast to his statements at a recent rally at the Yarmuk refugee camp in Damascus, where Zahar called Israel "our enemy until Judgment Day," he said in the Al Jazeera interview that he "does not oppose negotiations with Israel if they lead to results that can be seen on the ground." He also said that Hamas does not oppose other parties intervening to conduct negotiations leading to "peace based on justice." These new statements again contrast the hard-line positions of Hamas outside the PA and those of its leaders in the territories.

The journalist and former Jordanian information minister Salah Kallab wrote in an article published yesterday that he believed Hamas was going through a process similar to one that the Palestine Liberation Organization went through. Kallab, who is very close to the Jordanian royal court, wrote that he believes that Hamas will also have to decide soon on the path it will take, even if this means a political split in the movement.