(photo credit: AP [file])
Hamas is prepared to deal "positively" with US President Barack Obama's Middle East peace plan, a top political aide to Ismail Haniyeh, the organization's prime minister, said Thursday.
"We have an initial readiness to accept it and deal with it positively, but we will also reject it if it doesn't include an American recognition of the Palestinian rights," Yousef Rizka told the Chinese Xinhua news agency.
"The plan should endorse Palestinian statehood with Jerusalem as its capital," Rizka was quoted as saying. "Hamas will take an in-depth study of the plan when it is made public."
According to various reports, Obama is soon set to unveil his plan for comprehensive Middle East peace, according to which the West will intensify sanctions against Hamas if it doesn't respond clearly to the initiative.
Rizka stressed that Hamas makes up its positions "mainly from the level of meeting the Palestinian rights."
He said that Hamas now accepts a two-state solution "but only in exchange for a long-term truce" with Israel.
"This is a firm position that we cannot give up," he said.
Meanwhile, a US envoy and Syria's foreign minister met Thursday as part of American efforts to achieve a "permanent and comprehensive peace in the region," a US Embassy official said.
Fred Hof, an assistant to George Mitchell, a former Senate Democratic leader who oversees US Mideast peacemaking efforts, met Walid Moallem shortly before ending a two-day visit to Damascus, the official said.
The embassy official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. Syrian officials did not comment on Hof's visit.
Hof's visit, which included many military personnel, was also designed to address Syria's efforts to help stabilize Iraq, a State Department spokesman said before the trip. The US has long complained that Syria has allowed insurgents to cross its border into Iraq.
It was Hof's second visit to Syria in less than a month.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated that peace talks would not resume until Israel completely freezes construction in settlements.
"Fatah totally rejects any attempt to establish a temporary Palestinian state," added Abbas during a Ramallah press conference, saying that in order to resume peace negotiations, both sides must abide by their Road Map commitments. Abbas also referred to Palestinians imprisoned in Israel saying that "emptying the jails in Israel of all Palestinian prisoners is a test of the seriousness of the peace process."
He repeated his remarks from the recent Fatah General Assembly that the Palestinians had a right to actively resist the occupation, but he added that this must be done according to international criteria.
"We have the right to legitimate resistance that international law gives every nation fighting an occupation and aspiring for independence," he said. "We won't change our demands to put an end to the occupation of all lands taken since 1967, and the establishment of a Palestinian state on all our national land, whose capital is east Jerusalem."