"Let's be honest and admit that we cannot liquidate Israel"
The Hamas radical Islamic movement is ready to cease the fire against Israel; it thinks that the state of Palestine must exist side by side with Israel. A Hamas spokesperson said it in an interview in Gaza Tuesday evening. If that was a serious statement it can be treated as Hamas' first official recognition of the state of Israel. The organization traditionally insisted that Israel must be liquidated. The sensational statement was published together with information of Israeli and Egyptian sources saying that Hamas consented to fire cessation.
Within the past weeks Egypt, the Palestinian Authority administration, the European Union and the USA have been exerting severe pressure upon Hamas. They demanded that terror directed against Israel must be stopped and that conditions must be created for realization of the Road Map peace plan, The Jerusalem Post reports.
Abu Shehab said: "What is the use of rhetoric talks? Let's be honest and admit that we cannot liquidate Israel. A practical solution of the problem for us is to create a state situated close to Israel." Abu Shehab is one of the five top representatives of Hamas. He is known for his "moderate" views. His statements often disagreed with the instigating statements of other Hamas leaders such as Abdel Asis Rantisi, the number two of the organization.
Political representatives of Hamas think that a frustrated operation aimed at liquidation of Rantisi revealed that Israel no longer wanted to draw a distinction between Hamas political and fighting wings. This very fact strips many of Hamas leaders of their political immunity.
Abu Shehab says that when the Palestinian state is created the terrorists will be no longer important as there will be no need to attack Israel. "Regular peaceful life will be restored. We should not create a new state of Palestine in Israel's place."
According to Shehab, it is not right for the state of Palestine to attack Israel; they should exist side by side because Palestinians may suffer an absolute defeat in a large-scale war waged against Israel. When asked whether Hamas would openly declare the cease-fire or it would be just a tacit consent, Abu Shehab said that "Hamas wants to make a public statement on fire cessation if Israel allows."
In Shehab's words, Israel frustrated all of the four attempts aimed at conclusion of cease-fire agreements, so it is rather dubious if the government of Ariel Sharon actually wants to conclude such an agreement. Abu Shehab says that after the 9/11 attacks the George W. Bush administration seriously discredited Hamas when it declared the radical organization was connected with al-Qaeda. Meanwhile, one of the Hamas Charter items is dedicated to national resistance.
All previous statements of Hamas leaders emphasized that cease-fire was possible on condition that Israel withdraws all troops from the territories conquered within the 1967 six-day war.
The other day sources in the Palestinian security service confirmed that the cease-fire talks were in the final stage. However, representatives of the IDF intelligence are skeptical about the cease-fire word. An IDF spokesperson spoke at the Knesset Committee for Foreign Affairs and Defense and said that some of the statements made by Hamas were vague. For instance, Hamas hasn't yet made a final conclusion to whom it addresses the cease-fire decision, to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas or to Egypt.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon also spoke at the session of the Knesset Committee. He said that Abbas had enough opportunities and personnel to fight against terrorist groups. According to Sharon, the Palestinian Authority has about 20,000 agents in Gaza Strip and about 30,000 agents on the West Bank. The agents are paid their wages and can start liquidation of the terrorist infrastructure any moment. Palestinians in their turn keep on understating their opportunities. Brigade General Saeb al-Ajezz, the one responsible for security of the northern part of Gaza Strip said that the Palestinian Authority had only 8,500 units of weapon, they needed more transport, equipment, uniform, communication facilities and military bases.
Until Hamas openly declares the cease-fire word, the Palestinian Authority won't be able to take any measures because preemptive and punitive attacks at Hamas will infuriate the Palestinian community, al-Ajezz says.
Ariel Sharon says that Israel will keep on fighting against terrorists until Abbas takes absolute control of the security. For the time being, Sharon says, there are no obstacles for Abbas to fight with instigations against Israel. According to Sharon, the Palestinian security forces are weakened with the fact that only one third of the authority members are loyal to Abbas and the rest remain faithful to the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat which disagrees with Bush's Road Map.
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