Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal said Saturday that the Islamist group’s request for a ceasefire with Israel was “a tactic in conducting the struggle.”
In an interview with Al-Jazeera, Mashaal explained that “it is normal for any resistance...to sometimes escalate, other times retreat a bit.” Hamas has implemented ceasefires in the past and has later resumed attacks, he pointed out, citing 2003 as a specific example.
According to Israel Radio, Mashaal said that he views Israel's pursuit of a cease-fire as proof that Hamas has succeeded in warding off IDF operations in Gaza.
Hamas has been negotiating with Egyptian officials for a six-month ceasefire period during which Hamas would halt its terrorist attacks and Israel would stop all counterterrorism operations. Nothing would prevent Hamas from continuing to import and manufacture weapons and train terrorists.
Hamas has also offered the promise of a 10-year pause in their attacks, if Israel would agree to relinquish all of Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem, including the Old City, and to grant citizenship to millions of foreign Arabs. If Israel were to meet those conditions, Hamas leaders say, they would agree to a 10-year ceasefire, after which they would resume their efforts to destroy the Jewish state.
Hamas to Abbas: Declare Talks a Failure
Hamas officials are pressuring Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to declare his negotiations with Israel a failure, PA sources said over the weekend. The group argues that Israel will not give in to PA demands, and has called on Abbas to negotiate with Hamas instead.
Arab media reported that Abbas was disappointed with the results of a recent meeting with United States President George Bush regarding the negotiations.
PA Reports Olmert Offered Temple Mount Already
Palestinian Authority officials quoted Saturday in the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar said that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had agreed in principal to allow Arab or Muslim authorities to control the Temple Mount. Olmert had asked to keep the Old City of Jerusalem along with the Mount of Olives and the neighborhood of the Shiloach Spring (Silwan), they said, but that he was willing to split control in a manner that would allow all religions freedom of worship.
The sources said negotiations between Olmert and Abbas had failed, as Olmert’s offers did not come close to meeting Abbas’s demands, which include only allowing Jews to remain in two percent of Judea and Samaria (presumably in the Jerusalem region) and allowing at least 100,000 Arabs to be granted Israeli citizenship over the next ten years.