Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal
JERUSALEM – Contrary to claims by former President Jimmy Carter, Hamas refuses to recognize Israel but will offer the Jewish state a 10-year truce if it evacuates the entire West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and eastern Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, Hamas chieftain Khaled Meshaal announced today.
A number of Hamas officials told WND Meshaal’s statements – which followed meetings over the weekend with Carter – do not annul the terror group’s stated goal of annihilating Israel.
Hamas officials also said to reach truce status the Jewish state must also allow the “right of return” for millions of “Palestinian refugees,” a formula Israeli officials across the political spectrum warn is code for Israel’s destruction by flooding the Jewish state with millions of Muslim Arabs, thereby changing its demographics.
“We agree to a [Palestinian] state on pre-67 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital with genuine sovereignty without settlements but without recognizing Israel,” Meshaal said today.
Pre-1967 borders refers to an Israeli withdrawal from eastern Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount and Old City; from the strategic, mountainous Golan Heights, which looks down on Israeli population centers and was twice used by Syria to attack Israel; and from the West Bank, which borders Jerusalem and is within rocket-range of Tel Aviv and Israel’s international airport.
Speaking to WND, Hamas spokesman Fawdi Barhoum clarified that for any truce to take effect, Israel would need to evacuate “every centimeter of the West Bank and every centimeter of east Jerusalem.”
No Israeli-Palestinian peace plans, even those drafted by extreme leftist Israeli parties such as Meretz, call for the Jewish state to evacuate the entire West Bank, citing security concerns as reason to retain some of the territory.
Contrary to media accounts and statements by Carter, Barhoum said Meshaal’s remarks do not imply Hamas will ever recognize Israel.
“We stand by our line, which means no recognition of Israel,” he said.
Briefing reporters in Jerusalem today, Carter claimed Hamas agreed to “accept” Israel.
“There’s no doubt that both the Arab world and the Palestinians, including Hamas, will accept Israel’s right to live in peace within the 1967 borders,” Carter said.
Hamas spokesman in Gaza Sami Abu Zuhri told WND any Palestinian state in territories evacuated by Israel is “temporary until all our lands are returned.”
Zuhri said as precondition for any Israeli-Hamas truce, the Jewish state must allow “all Palestinian refugees” to “return” to Israel.
The question of so-called Palestinian refugees is sensitive. All Israeli prime ministers have stated a final peace deal with the Palestinians cannot include the “return” of “refugees,” who could change Israel’s Jewish character by flooding it with foreign Arabs.
When Arab countries attacked the Jewish state after its creation in 1948, about 725,000 Arabs living within Israel’s borders fled or were flushed out when the Jewish state pushed back attacking Arab armies. Also at that time, about 820,000 Jews were expelled from Arab countries or fled following rampant persecution.
There are currently about 4 million Arabs who claim Palestinian refugee status with the U.N., including children and grandchildren of the original fleeing Arabs; Arabs living full-time in Jordan; and Arabs who long ago emigrated throughout the Middle East and to the West.
In offering his truce today, Meshaal used the Arabic word “hudna,” which is a Quranic term used by the Islamic figure Muhammad when he declared a 10-year “hudna” with the Quraysh tribe that controlled Mecca. Two years later, Muhammad acquired enough troops and arms to conquer Mecca and so he abrogated the hudna eight years early, waging war and defeating the Quraysh tribe.
Meshal did not address whether his terrorist group would alter its charter, which calls for the murder of Jews and destruction of Israel.
Meanwhile Carter told reporters that Hamas leaders informed him they would accept a “peace agreement” negotiated with Israel by their rival, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, if Palestinians approved the deal in a referendum.
“They said they would accept a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders if approved by Palestinians … even though Hamas might disagree with some terms of the agreement,” Carter said.
“It means that Hamas will not undermine Abbas’ efforts to negotiate an agreement, and Hamas will accept an agreement if the Palestinians support it in a free vote,” the former president said.
Carter, who met last week with Syrian President Bashar Assad, said that Syria was ready to “make peace” with Israel.
He called on Israeli parties independent of the Israeli government to negotiate with Syria.
Carter said Assad is “eager” to restart negotiations with Israel over the Golan Heights.
“In all my conversations with President Assad, whom I’ve known since he was a college student, I was impressed with their eagerness to complete the agreement on the Golan Heights,” Carter said.
Carter said he believes “85 percent of the differences [between Israel and Syria] had already been resolved, including an agreement on the borders, on water rights – which is applied on the Sea of Galilee – on the security zone and on the presence of international forces.”
Carter met with Yossi Beilin, the leader of the extreme leftist Meretz party, and reportedly asked him to jumpstart a “Syrian Geneva Accord,” which would independently negotiate with Syria over the Golan separate from the Israeli government. Carter was referring to Beilin’s Geneva Initiative, an unsanctioned attempt by private Israeli and Palestinian citizens to reach an understanding regarding a comprehensive peace deal. The initiative was widely criticized in Israel.
Carter stated a number of times during his visit to the region he was acting as a private citizen and representing his Carter Center. But today he claimed the U.S. government would support any peace agreement reached between Israel and Syria.
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