International

Hamas ‘implicitly accepts Israel’

The BBC and AP are reporting that Hamas has agreed to a document backing a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel. The initiative, devised by prisoners held in Israeli jails, implicitly recognises the Jewish state.

However, it seems unlikely that Hamas will rewrite its charter, which calls for Israel’s destruction and rules out peace negotiations.

We talked about this document last month when Abbas made his threat to call a referendum on Palestinian statehood and the 1967 borders that implicitly recognises Israel.

The BBC says that the agreement will be unveiled later today by Prime Minister Ismail Haniya of Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah.

“We agreed on all the points of the prisoners’ initiative,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in quotes carried by AFP news agency.

Obviously, Hamas can’t be trusted: so is this worth the paper it’s written on? Personally, I can’t help thinking that any step forward in recognition of the state of Israel is a positive one, no matter how small. The issue is clearly causing ructions within the Hamas ranks and Hamas’ last minute acceptance of the plan is surely linked to the attack on the Israeli outpost and the abduction of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

Hamas is refusing to give back Shalit. Israel is promising major military action if it does not hand him over. Mediators have said that the head of Hamas’ political bureau, Khaled Meshal – who is believed to have been behind the directive to carry out the attack – has yet to express willingness to release Shalit. Nevertheless, mediators have reported that talks with the Hamas leadership both inside and outside the territories were continuing, and are said to be optimistic about the prospects of Meshal changing his position.

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