Meshaal is officially the head of the diplomatic desk of Hamas, but is recognized as the #1 man in the terrorist organization. The target of a failed Israeli assassination attempt a decade ago, Meshaal told a Lebanese newspaper this week that Hamas will not hesitate to resume its armed warfare against Israel.
Specifically, he threatened, "If within six months, the international community does not come up with a plan for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders [i.e., on all the land liberated by Israel in the Six Day War - ed.] and for the return of the refugees, the Palestinians will turn to an armed struggle against Israel."
"We can have an intifada even when running the Palestinian Authority," Meshaal said, explaining that the ceasefire was not designed to bring peace, but is rather another stage in the war with Israel. "The current calm [cease-fire in Gaza - ed.], just like the escalation [before that], is part of the way we manage the conflict with Israel."
Many Israeli military men and analysts have said that Hamas is using the current truce in Gaza to rearm and regroup towards the next round of fighting.
Hamas Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniye, visiting in Syria, echoed Meshaal's position in a speech at a refugee camp. He said the Palestinians will not give up on "even one grain of sand of Palestine," and that Syrian President Assad promised him that all the Palestinian [terrorist] prisoners incarcerated in Israel would be freed.
Meshaal admitted that the Hamas-Fatah talks for a unity PA government have "encountered difficulties," but said they have not yet hit a dead end. This clashes with announcements by Hamas leaders Haniye and Mahmoud A-Zahar, who said on Monday that the negotiations had failed and were beyond recovery.
Hamas and Fatah elements traded blame and accusations for the failed talks. Fatah leader Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) is expected to announce - possibly today - whether he plans to dissolve the Parliament, thus leading to a clash with Hamas.