‘Hamas agrees to Palestinian state on ’67 lines’

Senior official Moussa Abu-Marzouq says his movement still won’t recognize Israel, wishes to resume attacks in the West Bank

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouq (YouTube image grab)
Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouq (YouTube image grab)

Hamas is prepared to accept a Palestinian state demarcated by the pre-1967 lines, with Jerusalem as its capital and without any Jewish settlements within its borders, an official in Hamas’s political bureau said, noting that the sole difference in outlook between his organization and Fatah on the matter concerns recognition of Israel.

Moussa Abu-Marzouq, the deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau and the top candidate to replace the organization’s chief, Khaled Mashaal, after his expected retirement, said in an interview published on Hamas’s website that Hamas and Fatah had agreed to statehood based on the pre-1967 ceasefire lines as part of a national reconciliation agreement signed in Cairo on May 4, 2011.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly asserted that Hamas agreed to the principle of Palestinian statehood along the pre-1967 lines, but never has a Hamas official so explicitly confirmed those remarks.

Hamas was engaged last week in indirect talks with Israeli officials in Cairo, through Egyptian mediators, to finalize the terms of a ceasefire reached with Israel following Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012.

But Abu-Marzouq denied that Hamas has decided to forgo military confrontation with Israel.

“Claiming that Hamas abandoned the resistance for a long period of time is strange. How can that be argued, when Hamas waged three wars in five years and everything in between was periods of preparation?” he said.

The reason for the lull in attacks in the West Bank is Israeli and PA operations against Hamas operatives, Abu-Marzouq admitted — not a lack of intention on Hamas’s part.

He accused the PA of neglecting the Gaza Strip, claiming that it had paid Fatah civil servants $100 million while ordering them to stay at home, following Hamas’s takeover of the coastal territory in July 2007. He noted that tariffs collected by Hamas from products smuggled in underground tunnels from Egypt were insufficient even to cover the cost of importing fuel.

The impasse in reconciliation talks with Fatah was the product of Fatah intransigence, Abu-Marzouq concluded. Hamas had magnanimously agreed to share power with Fatah, even allowing Abbas to serve as prime minister in a future unity government, despite his party’s defeat in the previous parliamentary elections held in 2006, he said.

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