Hamas campaigning for acceptance of its ways

Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Cabinet Secretary Ghazi Hamad said Hamas would consider a long-term truce with Israel, though both still fell far short of accepting international demands that they recognize the Jewish state, accept previous peace accords and renounce violence.

Danny Rubinstein, the Arab affairs correspondent of the Israeli daily Haaretz, said the Palestinian prime minister received him without an appointment, a rare gesture.

Rubinstein told Israel Radio that he believes Hamas is reaching out to the Israeli public.

Also Tuesday, Hamad, the Cabinet secretary, was interviewed on Israel Radio, speaking in fluent Hebrew he learned in Israeli prisons, like thousands of other Palestinians, the AP reports.

Hamad made it clear that recognizing Israel is still not on the agenda, but that a long-term truce is possible if Israel withdraws from the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, the territories it captured in the 1967 Mideast War.

"Until now we haven't talked about recognizing Israel but if Israel will agree (to withdraw) then perhaps," Hamad said. "Israel is looking for security and Palestinians are looking for peace, for their rights. If there is security, I think it's good for you (the Israelis)," he said in the radio interview.

The interviews came out hours before Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was to hold his first meeting as prime minister with U.S. President George W. Bush. Olmert is expected to outline for Bush his plan to withdraw from chunks of the West Bank and draw Israel's final borders by 2010, unilaterally if necessary.