Mofaz blames Hamas spin on rivals

Mofaz blames Hamas spin

Former defense minister Shaul Mofaz accused his political enemies on Wednesday of twisting the diplomatic plan he presented on Sunday as if it was focused only on talking to Hamas. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Mofaz denied any intention of speaking to Hamas leaders unless they accepted all the conditions of the Quartet, which include recognizing Israel, disarming terrorists and accepting all the agreements signed with Israel in the past. He said he would only meet with representatives of the terror organization if they decided to turn a new leaf after a victory in the January 24 Palestinian election. "Those who oppose me politically took what I said about Hamas and made it as if it was the focus of my plan," Mofaz said. "In the past I have talked to Hamas via Apache helicopters [used to kill Hamas leaders Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz Rantisi when he was defense minister]. But Hamas could come to power. And if it does, they will have to decide whether to continue what they call defiance or take the opportunity to have a state and build its foundations as a non-terrorist state." According to an English version of Mofaz's plan that he had printed for his visit to the US next week, Hamas is only referred to in the negative, and only in the final two paragraphs of the eight-page plan. "A lack of stability on the Palestinian side may bring about the strengthening of the Hamas in the West Bank," he wrote. "Israel, as a democratic state, will respect any elected Palestinian leadership and conduct negotiations with it. If the Hamas will refuse dialogue with Israel, Israel maintains its right to defend itself and the security of its citizens. "In the case of a failed Palestinian state alongside our borders, discontented Palestinian citizens may well vent their anger at Israel and/or allow the Hamas to take over the West Bank by popular vote or by force. This is the reason for the gradual and monitored nature of this proposal." Mofaz said he did not know whether Hamas would win the Palestinian election, which they are currently boycotting. And he said he did not believe Hamas would change its charter that calls for destroying Israel. But he said it would be better if Hamas took power in the temporary borders of a Palestinian state in 60 percent of the West Bank, as his plan proposes, than in 92-94 percent after a final-status agreement. Kadima leader Tzipi Livni and her spokesman declined to respond to Mofaz's accusations about political rivals twisting his plan. But Army Radio reported that Livni has criticized the plan in closed conversations with Kadima MKs. "Mofaz's plan harms Kadima and goes against its diplomatic platform," she told the MKs according to the report, which her spokesman declined to confirm.