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Mofaz: Hamas Acting Responsibly; Hamas: Israel Must Change Flag

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the Israeli cabinet on Sunday that since the election Hamas was acting responsibly. Shortly afterwards, a senior Hamas official called on Israel to change its flag.
By Scott Shiloh
First Publish: 1/30/2006, 12:22 PM / Last Update: 1/29/2006, 6:46 PM

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the Israeli cabinet on Sunday that since Hamas won a sweeping victory in last Wednesday’s PA parliamentary election, the extreme Islamic terror group was acting “responsibly.”

Mofaz also said that in the short term, he thinks Hamas will refrain from terror attacks.

He added that it was likely that the Hamas will also attempt to block the Islamic Jihad from carrying out terrorist attacks against Israel. Islamic Jihad, trying to portray itself as more radical than Hamas, boycotted last week’s election. They claimed that the elections were based on the Oslo accords and played into the hands of the United States.

Shortly after making his comments about the Hamas, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said from Gaza that Israel must change its flag. "Israel must remove the two blue stripes from its national flag", said Zahar. “The stripes on the flag are symbols of occupation. They signify Israel's borders stretching from the River Euphrates to the River Nile."

Israel’s national flag, a blue Star of David set between two blue stripes, was designed to resemble a Jewish prayer shawl which traditionally has stripes.

When asked whether the Hamas would renounce terrorism, Zahar said in a CNN interview, "What is the international definition of terrorism? When (Israeli planes) attack houses by F-16, just when they are using helicopters, when they are killing people and children and removing our agriculture system, this is terrorism."

Mofaz said the government’s policy towards Hamas must be clear. The Hamas, he said, “must annul their charter and disarm, and then we'll be facing a clearer reality," Mofaz said. The Hamas charter calls for the destruction of Israel.

An Israeli government official said that Egytian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan’s King Abdullah are worried that the Hamas electoral victory might encourage radical Islamic groups in their own countries.

The Hamas’s ideology is based on that of the Moslem Brotherhood, a radical Moslem sect based in Egypt.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (Kadima) said she would be travelling to Egypt next Wednesday to discuss the Hamas victory with Mubarak.

As for the future of ruling PA chief Mahmoud Abbas, Zahar said the Hamas planned to work with Abbas, also called Abu Mazen, the name he used as a PLO terrorist.
Abbas, who heads the Fatah party, was elected head of the Palestinian Authority in a separate election. Legally, he can retain his post until finishing out a four-year term.