'If IDF ceases aggression, we'll talk'

Haniyeh says if Israel stops op, opens crossings and lifts blockade, "all issues" will be addressed.

haniyeh house 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
haniyeh house 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Only if Israel stops its aggression unconditionally, lifts the blockade and opens the Gaza crossings will Hamas agree to "talk about all issues - and seriously," Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Wednesday night, at the end of the fifth day of the IDF's Operation Cast Lead. In a televised address, the Hamas prime minister added that only after these conditions have been met, will an internal Palestinian dialogue be launched. Haniyeh turned to Palestinians in Gaza. "The situation in Gaza before the war will be different from after the war," he assured them. "This is a war that divides two eras and, with God's help, victory will be ours, because these people stand firm, the resistance stands firm and because the occupation will fail to achieve anything. "Our blessings are with all those who have fallen in battle, all the casualties and all the operatives on the ground," he said. On a satisfactory note, Hanieyeh said that the Palestinians were closely following international opinion, particularly in the Arab world. "We get the feeling that Israel is standing against the Arab and Muslim free world that will never accept this crazy war against a people without [proper] arms in such a small area, but [are] a great and strong people nonetheless." "Gaza is not the only place standing against this aggression," he continued. "That's what they wanted. They sought to isolate it from the Arab world, but this storm among Arab nations has proved that the Strip is not alone and the occupation cannot do this. The Arab people have proved that the Palestinian issue is in their hearts." Choosing to steer clear of criticizing Egypt for not opening the Rafah border crossing, Haniyeh said that "the occupation alone is responsible for what is going on - for the aggression and the blockade." Earlier Wednesday night, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in an address broadcast on Palestinian TV that the stalled negotiating process had become useless and was not reaching any of its goals - namely the creation of a Palestinian state. "Negotiation is not a goal in and of itself; it's a tool," Abbas said. "Unless it is a tool to achieve peace ... there is no need for it to continue." Turing to Gazans, Abbas said that the Palestinian people were standing firmly with them. He described the IDF operation as a "massacre" directed at the entire Palestinian people and called it "cheap election propaganda." The PA president also appealed to the UNSC to hold an emergency session on the Gaza situation.