Hamas may consider a one-year cease-fire with Israel, the organization's deputy political leader said in an interview published Saturday in an Egyptian newspaper. Khaled Mashaal's political deputy, Moussa Abu Marzouk, was one of several senior Hamas leaders who were in Cairo over the past week for talks with Egyptian officials on ways to calm Palestinian infighting and ongoing fighting with Israel. "We may agree to a one-year cease-fire," Abu Marzouk was quoted as saying in an interview with the state-owned daily Al-Ahram." Both parties have to abide by it."
Mashaal offers to end rocket attacks
Abu Marzouk, who along with Mashaal lives in exile in Syria, demanded that Israel also agree to a truce with Hamas, saying the only way for success was calm on both sides.
The current ceasefire in Gaza is unfortunately a sham," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev. "It would seem that before we talk about expanding the ceasefire, we should first get it right."
Hamas wants to get Israel to extend any Gaza cease-fire to the West Bank, where Israeli troops frequently conduct arrest raids against terrorists. Israel has reacted coolly to reports that Hamas is interested in a cease-fire.
Over the past two weeks, Hamas has launched more than 250 Kassam rockets that have a range of about 10 kilometers (six miles), many slamming into the border town of Sderot. Three Israelis have been killed by the rockets.
In a telephone interview from the Hamas political office in Syria, Mohammad Nazal confirmed that Hamas is considering a truce.
"Some private ideas were presented to Hamas (by Egyptian mediators) to reach a truce with Israel, and Hamas is about to undertake the suitable decision," Nazal said.
In the interview with Al-Ahram, Abu Marzouk also said the ball was in Israel's court regarding the soldier abducted nearly a year ago by Hamas gunmen.
He said the Israeli government has been handed a list of names of Palestinian prisoners, but "Israel's response was disappointing, as if they don't want to go ahead to close a deal therefore things stopped there."
Israel has detained several Palestinian Hamas lawmakers including Parliament Speaker Abdel Aziz Duaik, since the abduction of Cpl. Gilad Schalit in June last year. The idea was to trade the lawmakers for the soldier, but no deal took place.
Earlier Saturday Vice Premier Shimon Peres said that "in spite of the perception it is trying to create, Hamas's situation is bad."
Peres told Israel Radio that the economic situation in Gaza was difficult, chaos was ongoing and that governance in Gaza is carried out through "a rule of gangs."
"We are talking about a war of nerves," said Peres, "and Israel has strong nerves."
Regarding Palestinian infighting, Abu Marzouk said that a meeting between Hamas, Fatah and Egyptian officials will take place after two weeks.
Fatah members held separate talks last week in Cairo with Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and others in an attempt to end fighting between the two factions.
Fatah and Hamas reached a truce more than a week ago to stem fierce factional fighting that killed more than 50 Palestinians, but tension between the two groups remains high.
A delegation from Palestinian Islamic-Jihad is scheduled to arrive in Cairo for similar talks Sunday.