JERUSALEM – Hamas, which catapulted to power in this week’s Palestinian elections, will soon make public a “peace initiative” in which it will offer to trade strategic land with Israel, cease attempts to capture parts of Jerusalem, and sign a 10-year renewable cease-fire with the Jewish state, a top Hamas leader told WorldNetDaily during an exclusive interview.

But the Hamas leader said the plan, which he justified using Islamic tradition, is a temporary machination to ease international and U.S. hostility toward his group in hopes of receiving financial assistance, explaining Hamas will not give up its goal of destroying Israel.

“We will not take any initiative to change the way of life of the Palestinian people,” said the senior Hamas official, who spoke to WND on condition his name be withheld, since he said he was “revealing confidential operative information.

“We will not impose the Islamic laws and we will not escalate our fight against Israel,” he said. “We will even be ready to accept an interim long-term agreement that will give the Palestinian people an independent state on most of the territories occupied in 1967. I tell you we will surprise everyone with our new attitude.”

Hamas won this week’s historic Palestinian parliamentary elections by a large margin. Hamas chief Mahmoud al-Zahar told WorldNetDaily yesterday his terror group will seek to create a coalition with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ currently ruling Fatah Party.

But Fatah officials said Abbas’ party will bolt the government and place itself in the opposition, making Hamas the main Palestinian powerbroker.

“Hamas won the elections. We respect that and will make way for them to form the Palestinian government, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told WND.

The top Hamas leader told WorldNetDaily his group held a series of meetings the past few months in which it decided if Hamas wins elections it will offer Israel a temporary truce during which the group will build an interim Palestinian state.

“We will be ready for a long interim agreement based on a period of cease-fire that can go to 10 or even 15 years like it was done by the Prophet Muhammad with the enemies of the Muslims. During this period we will build our state on the strong basis of honor and with an honest administration,” the top Hamas leader said.

Hamas officials, including overall Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, who resides in Syria, formulated a “peace proposal” they said would be acceptable to their group in which the Palestinians would offer to trade certain lands with Israel, the top Hamas official revealed.

“With the territories we will be ready to discuss the possibility that the three big settlement compounds will remain under the power of the occupation (Israel) and in exchange we will receive territories for the Palestinian independent state,” said the Hamas leader.

The leader told WND the “three settlements” he was referring to are Ariel and Gush Etzion, two large regions in the West Bank that contain many of the area’s major Jewish communities, and western and peripheral sections of Jerusalem, which he said Hamas considers “Israeli settlements.”

Hamas, in exchange, would want the eastern sections of Jerusalem, the parts of the southern Israeli Negev desert that border the Gaza Strip and the Jordan Valley, which extends from outside Jerusalem toward Jordan and encompasses most of Israel’s major water supplies.

The Hamas official said his group would be willing to compromise on its territorial demands.

“We are most interested in Jerusalem and the Negev,” the leader said.

The leader then justified the Hamas “peace plan” using Islamic history.

“The Muslim hero Saladin gave up land when he gave Acco to the Crusaders in order to keep Jerusalem. Therefore, I say that the possibility of the exchange of territories existed already in the history of Islam and it cohabitates with our principle that all of Palestine is a dedicated land from Allah, may he be blessed to the Muslims, and no one has the right to give up any part of it,” said the leader.

There have been concerns that when it assumes control, Hamas may impose hard-line Islamic law on the Palestinians. Yesterday, Hamas gunmen placed the group’s flag on the Palestinian parliament building in Ramallah and reportedly announced Hamas will soon rule the area by Shariah law. Hamas reportedly has bannedWestern music events and established hard-line Islamic courts. Israel says the group has an “Anti-Corruption Unit” that enforces Islamic rules.

But the Hamas official told WND his terror organization will not impose Islamic law, “in order to reduce the hostility of the international community and the government of Israel [toward Hamas].”

He explained his group will create a governing coalition it feels will help garner financial assistance from European countries, including allowing another party to hold the foreign affairs and internal security portfolios and likely keeping the PA’s current minister of finance, Salaem Fayyad, who largely is acceptable to the international community.

The Hamas leader said his group will not abandon its goal of destroying Israel.

“When I speak about a long cease-fire and a temporary agreement, it means that we do not recognize the right of the state of the occupation on our lands, but we will accept its existence temporarily,” said the leader.

The leader insisted the policies are based on the formulation Hamas will not be able to defeat Israel in the near future, but he said his group is confident it ultimately will be “victorious.”

“I do not see the Palestinian people and Islamic nation succeeding to liberate this blessed land of Palestine in the very near future,” he said. “This is an Islamic land and the Jews are invited to live in Palestine and the Muslims will guaranty their safety and honor. … But we will never give up our right for the whole of Palestine. We should be realistic to admit that the mission for the liberation of Palestine will pass on to the coming generations.”

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