A senior Hamas source assessed on Friday that newly-appointed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh would present a plan that would allow the movement to recognize Israel.
The initiative was expected to be handed to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas during a meeting between the two leaders scheduled for Friday.
According to Army Radio, the Hamas source noted that the expected change resulted from international pressure against the organization, urging it to recognize Israel and abandon terrorism. The pressure was most effectively applied by decisions to withhold funds from the Palestinians. That decision was reached by both the European Union and the United States in the last two days.
Also on Friday, PA Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar told The London Times that Hamas was willing to accept a two-state solution, and that it was willing to conduct a referendum on the matter among the Palestinians. He said his party was willing to engage in talks with the international community regarding establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
In spite of reports of Hamas' move towards moderation, Haniyeh insisted that his movement had not changed its views. Israel Radio reported that he denied rumors that he was to give Abbas a plan to accept a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Earlier in the week, Zahar negated reports of apparent moderation that may have been interpreted from a letter he wrote to UN Sec.-Gen. Kofi Annan. The foreign minister insisted that when he said that the Palestinians wished to live in peace with its neighbors, that did not include Israel. In another incident, he said that he dreamed of putting up a map that did not include Israel.
Head of the Interdisciplinary Center's Mideast Studies Department Dr. Guy Bechor told Army Radio on Friday assessed that the apparent moderation did not reflect an actual significant change in Hamas policy, but rather their need to receive international aid.
"Hamas is in a tremendous crisisâ€¦They have to find all sorts of arrangements so that money would arrive from the US, Europe, and maybe even from Israel," Bechor said.
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