Hamas ready to talk to Israel

Khaled Meshaal, the political leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, said Wednesday that a long-term truce with Israel would be possible, if it accepted conditions including a return to its 1967 borders.

In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp., Meshaal also said Hamas would not renounce violence since it believed that resistance against what it considers an occupation is legal.

Meshaal said he wanted to send a message to the next Israeli government that Hamas would be ready to talk, if Israel met conditions that included a withdrawal to the boundaries that Israel had until the 1967 Middle East war.

Hamas would then "possibly give a long-term truce with Israel," he told the BBC.

"This is a position that Hamas could take, but not now, only after Israel recognizes the rights of the Palestinians, to show and confirm its willingness to withdraw to the 1967 borders," he said.

Meshaal said such a move by Israel could create conditions for the international community to find a solution for all of the region's problems.

But Meshaal, who lives in exile in Damascus, Syria, also said Hamas was capable of leading the Palestinians in a long fight that they would be better able to bear than Israel.

BBC said the interview was conducted in the Cairo, Egypt, where Meshaal and other Hamas leaders were meeting to discuss the next step after the group's surprising victory over the Fatah Party in the Jan. 25 Palestinian election.

On Tuesday, Israel's acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said Israel should retain its main West Bank settlement blocs and all of Jerusalem when its permanent borders are drawn, but will give up parts of the West Bank where most Palestinians live,reports the AP.

I.L.