Mahmoud Al-Zahar
Mahmoud Al-Zahar Reuters

Hamas is rejecting the Arab Peace Initiative and calling on Arab countries to stop promoting it.

Mahmoud Al-Zahar, a member of Hamas' political bureau, on Thursday said the initiative is a threat to vital Palestinian interests.

In an interview with the Al-Arabi Al Jadid newspaper, Zahar called on Arab countries not to promote the Arab Peace Initiative, explaining that it is merely a mechanism that will eliminate the idea of ​​establishing a Palestinian state, due to the fact that negotiations with Israel have proven to be a failure.

The Arab peoples, Zahar continued, should first and foremost be concerned about the Palestinians before they seek peace with Israel.

The initiative, unveiled in 2002 and re-endorsed at the 2007 Arab League summit, says that 22 Arab countries will normalize ties with Israel in return for an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria.

Israel to date has rejected the plan due to the fact that it calls for Israel to accept the so-called "right of return" for millions of descendants of Arabs who fled pre-state Israel, effectively bringing an end to the Jewish state.

It has recently been in the headlines again, however, as Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the initiative is the best solution for the conflict, and rejected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's demand that the initiative be updated.

"It is on the table and it is a solid basis for ending the conflict," he said. "We and the rest of the world believe that the Arab peace initiative is the best option to resolve the conflict and we hope that this wisdom prevails in Israel too and that the Israelis would accept this initiative."

In Thursday’s interview, Zahar also addressed the reconciliation talks between Turkey and Israel, saying that Hamas is not up to date on the details, but does not oppose the idea that an Arab country will monitor the Gaza seaport after its construction, and ensure that it will never be used for transport of weapons.

He also claimed that Hamas does not need more weapons as it already has enough.

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