Haniyeh: Peace proposal 'important'

Says document implicitly recognizing Israel "needs more work."

Haniyeh talks 288.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Haniyeh talks 288.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas said Friday that a proposal hammered out by Palestinian activists that would implicitly recognize Israel is important but needs deeper study. The proposal is the result of a month of negotiations by security prisoners in Israeli jails and it calls for a Palestinian state on the lands Israel captured in the Six Day War: the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and east Jerusalem. The implicit recognition of Israel would be a major change for Hamas, which calls for Israel's destruction, but it is unlikely to go far enough to satisfy Israel and Western nations, who cut off funds to the Palestinian government after Hamas won parliamentary elections in January. "The document includes very important useful points that will contribute to remove some obstacles, but it needs more deep study," Haniyeh said, adding that the document would be among several presented to a conference of Palestinian factions later this month. However, on Thursday a senior Hamas official rejected outright a peace initiative proposed by former Fatah-Tanzim head Marwan Barghouti, in which he accepted the 1967 lines as borders of a future Palestinian state. A document composed by Barghouti from inside the Israeli prison where he is incarcerated, outlined the terms of an agreement to quell the tensions between Fatah and Hamas, and was approved by Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. The document, sent to both Abbas and Haniyeh, was signed by Barghouti, Hamas's Abdel Khaleq al-Natsheh, Islamic Jihad's Bassam al-Sa'di, the Democratic Front's Mustafa Badarneh and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine's Abdel Rahim Malouh. Fatah spokesman Ahmed Abdel Rahman described the letter as good and serious and called on all Palestinian factions to respond positively. Described by its authors as a national unity initiative, the letter urged representatives of all the Palestinian factions to join a national unity government and to talk in one voice. "Since we are still passing through the phase of liberation, there is a need for a new struggle strategy," the letter said. It also urged Hamas and Islamic Jihad to recognize the PLO as the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people - a demand that had already been rejected by leaders of the two groups in the Gaza Strip and Syria. The letter emphasized the Palestinians' right to pursue their attacks on Israelis, but only in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It called for the formation of a new body called the Palestinian Resistance Front to coordinate attacks. "The Palestinian people have the right to resist and to adhere to the option of resistance by all methods," it said. "The resistance should be focused in the areas that were occupied in 1967, along with political negotiations."