"First Self-Destruct, Then We'll Talk"
While DM Mofaz says Hamas could be a negotiating partner under certain circumstances, Hamas spokesman Assad Farhat makes it clear: "First withdraw to '49 borders and allow pre-'48 Arabs to return."
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 3/9/2006, 8:14 AM / Last Update: 3/9/2006, 10:55 AM
Assad Farhat, Hamas spokesman in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank of the Jordan River], told the French news agency AFP Wednesday that Hamas has no use for the two-state Road Map. He said his organization views the Road Map as an "American Zionist program" that is irrelevant for his organization.
Farhat made the remarks in response to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's optimistic statement that Hamas has not turned down the Road Map as a basis for talks with Israel.
Farhat said it's not true. He said that his organization would be willing to recognize and negotiate with Israel only under the following conditions:
"When Israel announces that it will retreat from the conquered territories of 1967, releases the Palestinian [terrorist] prisoners, stops its aggression against the Palestinian nation [sic], and announces its willingness to solve the refugee problem [i.e., accepts the Right of Return of millions of Arabs into Israel - ed.], only then will we agree to negotiate."
Israel's Defense Minister Mofaz, visiting in Berlin, said that Israel has its own conditions - and that if Hamas meets them, Israel would be willing to talk with it. The impression given by some press reports was that Israel refuses to acknowledge the Hamas commitment to Israel's destruction. The Jerusalem Post, for instance, headlined its story, "Mofaz: Hamas may be partner if it accepts demands."
Mofaz contributed to this impression by stating, "I suggest that we be patient and see how the Hamas government is formed and which guidelines it will adapt in the end."
Mofaz added, though, that if "Hamas continues to act as a terrorist organization, it will be dealt with accordingly."
Though the new PA government is being formed by Hamas, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), of the Fatah party, can remain in his position. It is largely felt that his influence will be minimal, but Mofaz still gives him the benefit of the doubt: "Abu Mazen's relevancy is dependent upon him and how much he will pressure and persuade Hamas."
Abbas told an Italian newspaper Wednesday that he "hopes Olmert wins" the upcoming elections in Israel. The National Union-National Religious Party list jumped on the opportunity, saying, "It's no wonder that Abu Mazen supports Olmert. Who doesn't like free gifts? He just can't wait for Olmert to grant him the Hamas state. This is the prize Abu Mazen gives Kadima for its promise to carry out free withdrawals."