Haniyeh: Hamas will weigh ceasefire

Says plan must include end to Gaza siege; Assad reportedly meets Mashaal, Islamic Jihad leader.

hamas mourners 22488 (photo credit: )
hamas mourners 22488
(photo credit: )
Hamas will seriously consider a ceasefire with Israel in the context of an agreement that includes an end to the blockade on the Gaza Strip and an opening of the crossings, the group's Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said on Friday night. According to Haniyeh, Arab countries made a decision to end the siege but said that nothing had actually been done on the matter. Haniyeh hoped that Arab leaders would take steps towards ending the blockade during the upcoming Arab summit in Damascus. He called on Arab leaders to support the Yemeni initiative to solve the crisis between Hamas and Fatah. Meanwhile, the Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar reported that Syrian President Bashar Assad met Hamas's Damascus-based leader Khaled Mashaal and Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shalah. The three reportedly discussed the situation in the Palestinian territories. Earlier Friday, it was reported that Hamas was asking the Arab states to cut ties with Israel, and support Hamas's armed campaign against it instead. About 2,000 people were attending a Hamas-organized rally in Gaza, as Arab leaders convened in Damascus ahead of the Arab summit. Hamas leader Khalil al-Haya said Israel would only respond to violence. "The Zionist enemy doesn't have a vision of peace. Only force... fighting and holy war works with [Israel]." Mushir al-Masri, another Hamas leader, said the Arab initiative was a "burden" on Palestinians. "Hamas is defending the honor and dignity of this nation on the [Arabs] behalf," he said. The Saudi-sponsored peace initiative, first floated in 2002, offers Israel peace with all Arab countries in return for withdrawal from all the lands it captured in the Six Day War, the creation of a Palestinian state with a Jerusalem as its capital and a solution to the refugee issue. Israel has rejected the initiative in the past, but has recently spoken favorably of it. Friday's rally was peppered with pleas from children for a lifting of the closure imposed on Gaza after Hamas violently seized the territory last summer. "Your summit will be useless if you don't lift the siege on Gaza," a young boy screamed into a microphone.