Former American President Jimmy Carter said on Monday that Syrian-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal told him the terrorist organization is willing to accept the right of Israel to "live as a neighbor next door in peace." He also said that Mashaal insisted he will not try to undermine efforts by Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas to reach a final status agreement with Israel for a new Arab state within Israel's current borders.
Mashaal, who previously has said he would never recognize Israel, has insisted that Jerusalem allow five million foreign Arabs to immigrate into Israel based on the claim that they are descendants from Arabs who fled the country during the War of Independence in 1948. Arab countries at the time encouraged Arabs to leave Israel, with the promise that soon they would return after the expected annihilation of Israel. Abbas has made the same demand, but analysts think he has maintained that position as "posturing" and would forfeit the demand as a gesture of a grand compromise with Israel. Permitting such an overwhelming Arab immigration would effectively end the Jewish majority in the state.