Hamas leader reportedly backs two-state solution

Islamist group denies Saudi report that Mashaal asked Jordan’s King Abdullah to convey the message to Obama

Jordan's King Abdullah II, right, meets with 
former Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, in Amman, Jordan, January 28, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Raad Adayleh)
Jordan's King Abdullah II, right, meets with former Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, in Amman, Jordan, January 28, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Raad Adayleh)

Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal on Monday asked Jordan’s King Abdullah to inform US President Barack Obama that his organization supports a two-state solution with Israel, Saudi Arabia’s al-Sharq reported.

According to the report, which cited Jordanian officials, Mashaal expressed his organization’s support for a conflict-ending agreement that would grant the Palestinians an independent state based on the pre-1967 lines. The king is expected to convey the message to Obama in a meeting scheduled for the end of February.

The officials said that the issue had come up during the two leaders’ previous meeting several months ago, but that Mashaal only agreed to pass on the message this week.

Abdullah told Mashaal that direct negotiations with Israel and the creation of a timetable for the two-state solution are “the only way to achieve security and stability in the Middle East.”

Hamas officials later denied the reports, saying that the issue of the two-state solution never came up.

The Gaza-based Hamas, which Israel, as well as the US and other allies, consider a terror organization, and against which Israel conducted an eight-day military operation in November, has so far refused to adopt the two-state solution. Though it has formally accepted the Arab peace initiative, which calls for a Palestinian state within the 1967 lines, the Islamist group — an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood — has stressed that such a state would be only a temporary stage before the complete liberation of Palestine. Its leaders have repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel.

Last year, Hamas gave its approval for the Palestinian Authority’s successful bid to upgrade its status at the UN to nonmember observer state, a move the group had initially rejected. If the new reports are true, supporting the two-state solution may move Hamas closer to achieving the long-discussed reconciliation with Fatah.

On Tuesday, the London-based daily al-Quds al-Arabi reported that Mashaal, who is expected to retire from being head of Hamas’s political bureau, has his eye on the Palestine Liberation Organization’s top position, aiming to replace Mahmoud Abbas as head of the PLO’s Executive Committee. The inclusion of Hamas would grant the Islamic organization the vital international recognition it currently lacks.

In 1997 the Mossad attempted to assassinate Mashaal near the Hamas headquarters in the Jordanian capital.

Elhanan Miller contributed to this report

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