Hamas gunmen 298.8.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Hamas on Sunday reiterated its offer for a "hudna" [temporary truce] with Israel and said the planned US-sponsored Middle East peace conference would be a "waste of time."
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters in Cairo that the proposed conference, slated for November, must have a clear agenda dealing with the fundamental issues of Jerusalem, the borders of the future Palestinian state and the issue of the refugees.
"We must have a clear document so that we can begin detailed negotiations on the so-called final status issues," Abbas said after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Abbas warned that the negotiations would be "unrealistic" unless the parties discussed the core issues. He said it would be "unacceptable and pointless" for the conference to end only with a general communiquÃ©.
"If we want the conference to succeed, we must prepare for it very well," Abbas stressed.
Nimer Hammad, political advisor to Abbas, said the Palestinians want the international community to be present at the conference. "The best way to ensure the success of the conference is by bringing in the international community," he said. "Many countries are keen on the success of the conference because failure will result in a disaster."
Hammad said joint Israeli-Palestinian negotiating teams would try to draft a general agreement on the fundamental issues before the upcoming conference. "It will be dangerous for us to go to the conference without such an agreement," he added.
Ahmed Yusef, a top advisor to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, called on Israel to embark on confidence-building measures with Hamas as a first step toward reaching a hudna.
"Israel must take confidence-building measures to convince us that it is prepared to accept Hamas's vision, which is based on a hudna in return for a withdrawal to the 1967 borders, the release of all the Palestinian prisoners and solving the issue of the refugees," he said.
The latest Hamas offer for a truce, which comes on the eve of Abbas's meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, is seen by senior PA officials as an attempt on the part of Hamas to end the international boycott of the Islamist movement.
"Hamas is not a partner to any negotiations," said Fatah spokesman Ahmed Abdel Rahman. He said Hamas's recent "gestures" showed that the movement was "politically bankrupt."
Referring to the peace conference, Yusef, the Hamas official, said the gathering was designed to "sell more illusions" to the Palestinians that soon they will have their own state. "After the conference the Palestinians will realize that the Americans have been messing around with them and that [US President George W.] Bush can't deliver because, like Abbas and Olmert, he's a lame duck," he said.
Yusef lashed out at Abbas, saying he no longer represented the Palestinians. "Abbas's role has been restricted to running the affairs of the West Bank and rebuilding Fatah," he said. "He's not capable of taking fateful decisions concerning the future of the Palestinians."