Posted by Joshua on Saturday, April 26th, 2008
Ibrahim Hamidi, al-Hayat's Bureau Chief in Damascus, sent this translation of Hamas' official response to President Carter: Ibrahim writes:
Please find attached, the remarks and observations made by Hamas on the proposed statement of Jimmy Carter. I got the official text and published it in Al-Hayat . Here is the English version.
Please note that Hamas accepts on written paper to recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. Hamas will accept the results of final status peace talks.
We highly appreciate the courageous step taken by the Hon. President Carter to move about in the region in order to meet all pertinent parties. In particular it is worth mentioning his meeting with the leadership of the Hamas movement.
We express our goodwill for the held meetings with President Carter which were in a warm environment of transparency and clearness that prevailed
though the course of the discussion.
And after we confer in deep concern the way of formulation to the proposed statement, let us brief you about our remarks and observations, as follows:
1- In regard to the first point (Unilateral Ceasefire and Border Crossing):
In the light of the last meetings of our delegation with the Egyptian's leadership, we advanced positively at the level of accomplishing an agreement on the issue of reciprocal cease fire, we in the leadership of the movement dealt with the Egyptian efforts sincerely and positively to reach the said reciprocal cease fire, carrying in mind the advices of President Carter and his recommendation at this issue and his keen interest to conclude a cease fire agreement.
2- In regard to the second point ( Exchange of Prisoners)
Due to the sensitivity and high importance of the issue of prisoners to our people, we still believe that we have to continue the negotiation on the
swap deal from the point previously reached and build on it forward.
Mr. Khaled Mesha'al: the President of political bureau: affirms his response to the request of President Carter during their meeting in Damascus; to
convey a letter from captured soldier Gilad Shalit to his parents; via the Carter Centre, as it was proposed.
3. Referendum. If President Abbas succeeds in negotiating a final status agreement with Israel, Hamas will accept the decision made by Palestinian
people and their will through a referendum monitored by international observers, including those from the Carter Center, or by a newly elected
Palestine National Council by mechanism agreed upon nationally, even if Hamas were opposed to the agreement. In order to ensure that the referendum
can be debated and the choice by voters truly reflects the will of the Palestinian people, a national reconciliation and in particular between Fatah and Hamas will be necessary.
4. Rafah Crossing. To alleviate the suffering by the people of Gaza. It is very important to lift the siege; and that is what was demanded by Hamas and the Palestinian people. To that end, Hamas is prepared to cooperate in the opening and running of the border crossing at Rafah, which would be controlled by Palestinian Authority and Hamas officials as well as those from Egypt and the European Union. Final decisions on running the crossing
would be made by Egyptian officials. I hope that Israel will use the period of calm to agree to these procedures and allow the freer movement of goods
5. National Reconciliation. Hamas is prepared to negotiate an agreement with President Abbas to create a government of national consensus, which would have authority over both the West Bank and Gaza. Hamas supports a unified professional security force for the West Bank and Gaza. A dialogue among all forces and factions is needed to discuss the details of creating such a force. I have personally suggested that one option worthy of consideration would be a Cabinet composed of technocrats belonging to neither Fatah nor Hamas, though approved by both, which would govern at least until the schedule elections in 2010.
6. During the course of my conversations with the leadership of Hamas, they expressed their greatest concern with the terrible suffering; due to the
occupation atrocities and siege; felt by the Palestinian people. They reiterated that the fulfillment of their national right of self-determination and the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 borders as affirmed by them in the National Reconciliation Document would create the basis for true peace.
Patrick Seale on the likelihood of Israel Talking to Hamas
Al-Hayat - 25/04/08
…A further major worry on the Israeli horizon is that the next American president might not be as aggressively pro-Israeli as George W Bush has been. The possibility of an American withdrawal from Iraq and of a U.S. 'grand bargain' with Iran must also be a source of great anxiety. It is not surprising that U.S.-Israeli lobbyists, including the big guns of the Washington Institute, strongly support John McCain, smear Barack Obama and have mounted a venomous campaign against Jimmy Carter.
Has Israel got an alternative? Yes, the alternative is a comprehensive peace. But Israel is unwilling – indeed unable — to pay the price of such a peace, which would require a withdrawal to the 1967 borders. No Israeli leader has the political vision or the moral authority to contemplate such a move. Too many 'facts' have been created on the ground on Palestinian territory. The messianic Israeli dream of controlling the whole of historic Palestine remains very much alive.
Nor can Israel consider accepting the terms proposed by Hamas, which are an exchange of prisoners, a lifting of the Gaza siege and a mutual ten-year truce. To accept such terms would mean accepting a form of mutual deterrence, something Israel has traditionally rejected.
The truth would seem to be that Israel can neither wage a full-scale war against its opponents nor make peace with them. It is therefore condemned to continue to rely on its present policies of besieging Gaza, intimidating its opponents by long-distance air and commando strikes, and decapitating hostile resistance movements by assassination….
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday that he failed to achieve any progress in Middle East peace talks with U.S. President George W. Bush and he is returning home from Washington with little to show for his visit. In an interview with The Associated Press on Friday, the Palestinian leader sounded pessimistic about the prospects of achieving any deal with Israel this year, despite a big U.S. push that began five months ago at a Middle East peace summit in Annapolis, Maryland.
Jihad Makdissi, Syria's very able Spokesman for the Syrian embassy in London on BBC Arabic explains the Syria position: Makdissi BBC Arabic on Nuclear