Hamas says Mofaz peace plan 'important step'
Kadima MK and former IDF chief presents plan for establishment of Palestinian state, says Israel should consider negotiating with Hamas if it changes its ways. Senior Hamas figure al-Masri: This is a very important step, but we are interested in its translation from talk into action
Knesset Member Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) on Sunday presented his plan for the establishment of a Palestinian state in temporary borders, saying such a plan is needed "because the relative calm is dangerous, and at its end hides a violent and bloody conflict."
Speaking to reporters in Tel Aviv, Mofaz said, "If (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu won't implement this plan, I will do so when I become prime minister."
The MK, a former IDF chief of staff, also said Israel should consider negotiating with Hamas.
"How can it be that six months have passed since Netanyahu's Bar-Ilan address and there is still no plan in place?" Mofaz told the press conference. "If Hamas is elected and chooses to negotiate – Israel must conduct dialogue with any group that changes its behavior.
"Meanwhile, Hamas continues to prepare for the next round (of fighting). They must realize that if they plan to continue firing on Israeli communities, their fate will be sealed," he said.
The main point of Mofaz's plan is the establishment of a Palestinian state in temporary borders on 50% - 60% of the Palestinian territory in the West Bank, mainly in Area A and Area B, which are under Palestinian control. The next stage, according to the plan, will be negotiations on the core issues, including the future of Jerusalem, the Palestinian refugees and the permanent borders. Mofaz is opposed to dividing the capital.
Mofaz is willing to commit to the world, and even give guarantees, that the final Palestinian state will not be formed on less than 92% of the territory.
The MK wants to annex major settlement blocs to Israel, and is willing to make territorial exchanges with the Palestinians. He stressed that, if need be, international forces could assist the Palestinians in their new state.
He said there would be no choice but to clear out isolated settlements. Some 65,000 Israelis currently live outside the major settlement blocs.
Hamas legislator Mushir al-Masri told Ynet in response to Mofaz's plan, "This is a very important step, but we are interested in its translation from talk into action."
"Obviously, such comments carry a lot of weight when they come from someone of Mofaz's stature – a man who went to war against Hamas and the resistance and is familiar with the issue's political and security-related aspects," said al-Masri.
The senior Hamas figure said he would not dismiss any offer "if it is based on the recognition of the basic rights of the Palestinian people and its right to be rid of occupation.
"The Israelis realize that we (Hamas) are a key player in the political arena. It would be a mistake to ignore Hamas and deal solely with (Palestinian President Mahmoud) Abbas," he said.
Ali Waked contributed to this report