Zahar: Hamas willing to discuss 2-state solution
In reconciliatory interview with Britain's Times newspaper, Palestinian Foreign Minister al-Zahar hints at Hamas willingness to recognize Israel, expresses willingness to meet with Western leaders
Hamas is prepared to discuss the concept of a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict that would recognize Israel's right to exist, the Palestinian foreign minister said in comments published on Friday.
Reuters and Ynetnews
Mahmoud al-Zahar, who is also a senior Hamas leader, said he wanted clarification on the two-state proposal from the "Quartet" Of Middle East mediators - the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia.
Hamas, which swept parliamentary elections in January, is sworn to destroy Israel. But Western states say they will cut off aid to the Palestinians unless Hamas renounces violence, recognizes Israel and abides by interim peace agreements.
Al-Zahar's reconciliatory message comes following recent reports regarding comments made by the foreign minister to PA foreign ministry officials, rejecting Israel's existence and calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state from "river to sea."
"Let us speak about what is the meaning of the two-state solution," Zahar said in an interview with Britain's Times newspaper. "We will ask them what is their concept concerning the two-state solution.
"What is the concept in the Quartet about the two-state solution and on what basis?"
Earlier this week, Zahar denied referring to a two-state solution to the conflict in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Zahar said his government would examine the Quartet's response and may gauge Palestinian voters' opinions.
"We are going to discuss that in the legislative council and after that we may need (to ask) the general attitudes of our people," he told the Times, according to a transcript of the interview on the paper's website.
Addressing a question about contact with Western countries, Zahar said he was willing to meet with international leaders.
"I am ready to go to Europe to the countries that are ready to accept us. If France is ready to receive us, tomorrow I am going to go. I have information that Norway can make contact with the new government. So it depends on the others. It's not our decision," he said.