Hamas gives mixed messages on talks

PA Dep. PM: "Negotiations with Israel possible;" top official dismisses option.

Hamas abu marzouk 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
Hamas abu marzouk 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Two top Hamas officials, the deputy prime minister and the deputy head of Hamas' political bureau, gave what seemed to be contradicting statements on Wednesday regarding the possibility of negotiations between Hamas and Israel. Deputy PM of Hamas Nasser Shaer said that the Hamas-led Palestinian government was open to the idea of joining a national task force that would support negotiations with Israel. "There is an idea among Palestinians to give [Palestinian Authority Chairman] Abu Mazen a chance, if it works why not?" said Shaer. The proposal, which is due to be discussed this week by all Palestinian factions, represents a possible way out of a crippling international boycott of the Palestinian Authority. Shaer said that if the proposal does not work, then "we will send a message to the whole world that the problem is not with the Palestinians but with the Israelis." Shaer added that Hamas could not accept the three conditions set by the international community for doing business with them, recognizing Israel, renouncing violence and accepting past peace agreements, but he said the new task force would support Abbas-led negotiations with Israel. In contrast, deputy head of Hamas' political bureau Moussa Abu Marzouk gave a different statement on the same day, saying that the organization had no immediate plans to negotiate with Israel. "Hamas has not and will not negotiate (with Israel)," Marzouk told The Associated Press by telephone from Damascus. However, he added that his group would not oppose talks between Israel and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.