'Haniyeh remarks are Palestinian double talk'

Hamas leader says terror group would accept agreement of a Palestinian referendum on peace with Israel.

December 1, 2010 20:12
1 minute read.
Gaza Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh gives a s

Haniyeh shouting, mikes 311. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Israeli government officials were underwhelmed by Hamas Prime Minister Isamil Haniyeh's statement on Wednesday, saying it did not indicate any sign of moderation by the terror group.

Earlier Wednesday, Haniyeh said Hamas would accept the agreement of a Palestinian referendum on peace with Israel, Reuters reported.

"On the contrary," one official said, "he [Haniyeh] restated the known Hamas position that as a first step they are willing to accept a Palestinian state on the West Bank, but that is only a first step. Ultimately they are committed to an Islamist Palestinians state that will replace Israel."

The official said the remarks were an example of Palestinian double talk. "They never say that a Palestinian state living alongside Israel will be enough for them, but rather that they will accept it. That is different. Notice that he never says that they will then be willing to live with Israel after that," he said.

According to this official, Haniyeh has made similar comments in the past.

"We accept a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital, the release of Palestinian prisoners, and the resolution of the issue of refugees," Haniyeh was quoted as saying.

Speaking at a rare press conference in Gaza, the Hamas leader said that his Islamist group would "respect the results (of a referendum) regardless of whether it differs with its ideology and principles." He specified that the referendum must include all Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and the diaspora, according to the Reuters report.

Haniyeh also denied allegations that al-Qaida operates in the coastal strip and that Palestinian terrorists had planned to carry out attacks in neighboring Egypt.

He told reporters that such allegations are lies meant to prepare the ground for future IDF attacks on Gaza, and said that he had sent a reassuring letter to Egypt's intelligence chief.

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