Egyptian FM: Hamas could be peace partner for Israel

Elaraby says he brokered Fatah-Hamas unity deal to create "true partner" for peace; will host Israeli Peace Initiative members in Cairo.

Elaraby 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Elaraby 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby said that he brokered the Palestinian reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas with the hopes of creating "a true partner" for peace with Israel. Elaraby's comments came in an interview with Italian newspaper La Republica on Wednesday.
"With this united Palestinian [government] Israel can negotiate for real, can carry through the implementation of UN Resolution 181 of 1947 which called for an Israeli and a Palestinian state.," Elaraby said in the interview.
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Elaraby dismissed concerns that Hamas being a terrorist organization would actually hurt the peace process. "Even George Washington was considered a terrorist, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, as well," he said. 
The Egyptian foreign minister, scheduled to succeed Amr Moussa as Arab League chief in July, said that Hamas would agree to negotiate with Israel, despite the fact that some of the organizations members called for violence against the Jewish State.
"Egypt is ready to organize negotiations together with the United States and do what Clinton, Bush and Obama have asked, to create an Israeli and a Palestinian State," Elaraby said.
Elaraby was scheduled to meet on Thursday with members of the Israeli Peace Initiative, including former senior Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Mossad officials, Israel Radio reported on Wednesday.
The Israeli Peace Initiative is pushing for the government to take the lead and kick-start the peace process, by adopting a framework for a peace settlement based on the 2002 Arab peace initiative. The basic principles of the Arab peace initiative - normalization of relations between the Arab world and Israel in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines and a compromise on the Palestinian refugee issue, would form a framework for the plan, which would then be open for adjustments.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry invited members of the group to Cairo, including former Shin Bet chief Yaakov Perry, former Mossad chief Danny Yatom and former envoy to the US Danny Gillerman.
The meeting will mark the first public contact between Egyptian officials and Israeli representatives since the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak in February.
Ben Hartman contributed to this report