Hamas reportedly weighing Saudi peace proposal

Abu Zuhri: Hamas has no intention of changing its position on Israel; report follows threat by Abbas to dismantle Hamas gov't.

Palestinian Authorty Deputy Prime Minster Nasser Abu-Shayer said late Wednesday that Hamas adopting the 2002 Saudi peace plan, which calls for peace with Israel following an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders, would be conditional on Israel recognizing the Hamas-led PA government. A report published on the organization's website said that Hamas was weighing the Saudi initiative, but had not taken a final decision, Israel Radio reported. According to the terms of the peace plan, in addition to reestablishing the 1967 borders, Israel would be required to dismantle the West Bank settlements and allows Palestinians the right of return. Hamas government spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that Hamas was weighing the plan, but that the group would not change its position on Israel's legitimacy. On Monday, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas took a hard line with Hamas, threatening to dismiss the Hamas cabinet unless it agreed to negotiate with Israel. Abbas's threat came less than 48 hours after a senior PA official told The Jerusalem Post that Abbas was seriously considering firing Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and calling new parliamentary election. Abbas's press secretary, Walid Awad, denied the report, saying it was 'unfounded and totally untrue.' However, Abbas, in an interview with Turkey's CNN TV station, said he did not rule out the possibility of dissolving the Hamas cabinet. 'The constitution authorizes me to dismiss any cabinet, but for now I don't want to use my powers,' he said. 'Everyone must know that, according to the law, I have the power to do so.' It was the first time that Abbas had issued such a public threat since Hamas won the parliamentary election last January. The threat is yet another indication of growing tensions between Hamas and Fatah. Ghazi Hamad, spokesman for the Hamas cabinet, dismissed Abbas's threat as 'inappropriate.' He pointed out that the threat came at a time when the new cabinet was facing increased pressure from the international community. 'These threats will only intensify the pressure and increase the isolation of the Palestinians,' he said. 'I don't think it's wise to issue such threats against a cabinet that has been in power for only three weeks. We were hoping that Abbas would support the cabinet's efforts.' In response to Abbas's demand that Hamas recognize Israel, Hamad said: 'President Abbas has a lot of experience in this field. He negotiated with the Israelis, who failed to meet their obligations. He has a bitter experience with Israel.'