JERUSALEM — Hamas is willing to accept a temporary Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and eastern sections of Jerusalem in exchange for a 10-year truce with Israel, Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Hamas-led Palestinian government, announced today.
But top Hamas officials and spokesmen for the terror group told WND the truce was meant to show some flexibility to the international community. They said Hamas’ goal of destroying Israel had not changed, and that the terror group has a 10-year plan to build a large army and defeat the Jewish state.
“We are with liberating any inch of Palestine, but we will not close the door for the next generation, because the weak don’t always stay weak, and the strong won’t stay strong,” Haniyeh said today in a televised address, explaining his 10-year truce proposal.
His comments come as the U.S. is set to mediate a meeting within the next few weeks between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to begin discussions on establishing a Palestinian state.
Haniyeh’s statements could be seized upon by Abbas as proof Israel can make peace with the Palestinians even while Hamas runs the Palestinian government.
But Hamad al-Ruqb, a top Hamas spokesman, said Hamas is working to destroy the entire state of Israel:
“Hamas will be able to free most of the territories of the historical Palestine occupied in 1948 (the state of Israel) and bring back the Palestinian refugees to their lands and houses. This step will be followed by a struggle to release the rest of the lands that will remain under occupation,” al-Ruqb said.
Al-Raqb said Hamas has a 10-year plan to defeat Israel that includes setting up a massive army comprised of all Palestinian factions that would train for a period of ten years.
A senior Hamas official in the Palestinian parliament told WND al-Raqb’s remarks were “proof” Hamas has not abandoned its “main goal” of destroying Israel.
The legislative member, who spoke on condition his name be withheld, slammed attempts by Abbas to present Hamas to the international community as a movement that would recognize a peace agreement with the Jewish state.
“Fatah attempts to present Hamas like a movement that gave up its ideology in order to keep its power, but these attempts failed. You see with the calls for a truce that Hamas can show some flexibility in its tactical policy but the strategic goals [of defeating Israel] are unchanged,” the Hamas official said.
Abu Abdullah, considered one of the most important operational members of Hamas’ so-called military wing, told WND Hamas is preparing for a military confrontation with Israel in spite of Haniyeh’s calls for a 10-year truce.
“The efforts in the field of preparations are running very well,” Abu Abdullah said.
He said other Palestinian factions, including parts of Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah’s declared “military wing, are “sharing their knowledge, their technological experience, connections and trainings with us.”
Abu Abdullah confirmed recent reports members of Hamas and other Palestinian organizations have been receiving training abroad, although he would not list specific locations.
WND earlier this month quoted Israeli and Palestinian intelligence officials stating Hamas members traveled to Iran and Lebanon for advanced military training.
Haniyeh’s calls for a 10-year truce with Israel in exchange for the West Bank, Gaza and parts of Jerusalem come exactly one year after WND conducted a well-circulated exclusive interview in which a top Hamas leader said his group would make public a “peace initiative” offering 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.
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.
“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.
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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