Hamas would lay down its arms if an independent Palestinian state is established, official says

Hamas would lay down its arms if an independent Palestinian state is established, official says

The Associated Press reports:

A top Hamas political official told The Associated Press the Islamic militant group is willing to agree to a truce of five years or more with Israel and that it would lay down its weapons and convert into a political party if an independent Palestinian state is established along pre-1967 borders.

The comments by Khalil al-Hayya in an interview Wednesday came amid a stalemate in months of talks for a cease-fire in Gaza. The suggestion that Hamas would disarm appeared to be a significant concession by the militant group officially committed to Israel’s destruction.

But it’s unlikely Israel would consider such a scenario. It has vowed to crush Hamas following the deadly Oct. 7 attacks that triggered the war, and its current leadership is adamantly opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state on lands Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.

Al-Hayya, a high-ranking Hamas official who has represented the Palestinian militants in negotiations for a cease-fire and hostage exchange, struck a sometimes defiant and other times conciliatory tone. [Continue reading…]

Hamas has been making peace proposals for decades — overtures that Israeli governments consistently reject. In 1997, the Los Angeles Times reported Sheik Ahmed Yassin, Hamas’s spiritual leader, saying:

“We are not fighting the Jews because they are Jews. We are fighting to remove the occupation over us and our people. We, the Palestinian people, are the victims of an Israeli aggression, a Zionist aggression on our homeland,” he said.

At home, with his sons and grandsons about him, the Hamas leader still reserves a few hours each day to receive the stream of disciples, well-wishers and reporters who make their way through the dusty, unpaved streets of Gaza to see him. In these conversations, Yassin repeatedly has raised the possibility of a hudna, or cease-fire, with Israel–a proposal that no other Hamas leader has dared, or perhaps desired, to make.

He is offering a temporary truce of up to 10 years on terms that mirror Arafat’s negotiating position for a final peace treaty: an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 border; the evacuation of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; the release of all political prisoners from Israeli jails; and the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

The demands far exceed what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would agree to even for a final peace treaty. Nonetheless, some Israeli officials and political observers view Yassin’s proposal as a hint of moderation from the leader of a group dedicated to replacing Israel with an Islamic Palestinian state. [Continue reading…]

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