haniyeh waving 298 88 ap.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister-designate Ismail Haniyeh on Sunday denied that Hamas was prepared to make peace with Israel, saying he had been misquoted by The Washington Post.
Haniyeh said his comments had been misunderstood. He said he was not referring to a peace agreement, only a "political truce."
"I didn't talk about recognizing Israel during the interview with the newspaper," Haniyeh told reporters in Gaza City.
"I only said that when Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, including Jerusalem, and releases all the prisoners and detainees, then we would be able to talk about a long-term hudna [truce]."
Haniyeh was quoted by the Post on Saturday as saying Hamas would establish "peace in stages" if Israel would withdraw to its 1967 boundaries. It was the first time Hamas has been quoted as seeking peace with Israel.
Salah Bardawil, a spokesman for Hamas, said his movement has a recording of the interview which clearly shows that Haniyeh did not make the statements that were attributed to him.
"Haniyeh, in response to a question, said that if Israel met all of Hamas's conditons, he would be prepared to consider "peace in stages." According to the spokesman, when the reporter pressed for further clarifications, Haniyeh explained that he was talking about a long-term truce with Israel.
Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said his movement would not cave in to pressure to recognize Israel. "Why should we recognize Israel?" he asked. "Has Israel recognized the Palestinian people or the right of return for the refugees?"
In response to reports that PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas was considering resigning because of threats by the US and the international community to boycott the PA following the Hamas victory in last month's parliamentary election, Haniyeh expressed hope that Abbas would remain in his position.
"I don't think he will resign," Haniyeh said. "Hamas will stand behind Abbas in the face of the new challenges. We want to work together with Abbas and the Palestinian Authority because we believe in dialogue."
Abbas's recurring threats to resign drew sharp criticism from some Palestinian political analysts. One of them, Ibrahim Abrash, mocked Abbas's threats, noting that in the past four years he has threatened to quit at least four times.
"These repeated threats damage Abbas's reputation," he said. "These threats make us depressed and confused."