A group of young Meretz Party activists sent a letter on Wednesday to Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal calling on him to release kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, recognize the State of Israel and launch negotiations on a ceasefire to promote the establishment of a Palestinian state.
"We were encouraged by your recent statement according to which Hamas' political goal was to establish an independent Palestinian state along the June 4, 1967 borders," the letter, which was relayed to the exiled Hamas leader, who resides in Damascus, with the help of former US president Jimmy Carter's wife, Rosalynn.
"We view this statement as a milestone that ought to be taken seriously by Israel and the international community," the left-wing activists said in the letter, adding "we hope that you will take another bold step that will lead Hamas to recognize Israel. Such a decision will pave the way for a better future for both the Israelis and the Palestinians.
"The Israeli occupation and the Palestinian terror have failed. The only solution is mutual recognition of the fact that both nations are here to stay and must therefore develop a normal relationship," they told Mashaal in the letter.
Toward the end of the letter, the Meretz members turned their attention to kidnapped Israel soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held captive in Gaza since the summer of 2006. "His release will show Israel and the rest of the world that Hamas can transform itself from a bitter enemy into a partner for dialogue, and it can also advance talks on a prolonged ceasefire that would free the Palestinians in Gaza and Israelis residing in the western Negev of the hell in which they live," the letter read.
Meretz Youth Chairman Uri Zaki, who met Carter Wednesday morning, said "it is time to launch negotiations with Hamas in order to release Shalit, stop the Qassam fire and bring about the solution of two states for two peoples," adding that he would be willing to meet with Mashaal at any time.
Carter is expected to hold talks with the exiled Hamas leader over the weekend.