Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal said his Islamist movement Hamas is willing to accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders or 22% of "historical Palestine."
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According to Mashaal, this has been Hamas' mission and what it has been fighting for since its inception. In an interview aired this weekend on CNN, Mashaal said: "I accept a Palestinian state according to the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as the capital, with the right to return."
Video courtesy of jn1.tv
Mashaal also addressed the issue of recognizing Israel, saying "I want my state. After this state is established, it (can decide) its position toward Israel. Don't ask me when I'm in prison under Israeli pressure. You cannot ask me, as a victim, what is my stand toward Israel."
Mashaal with Jabari in 2011 (Archive Photo: EPA)
'Ready to resort to a peaceful path'
Mashaal blamed the Fatah movement and Yasser Arafat for neglecting the Palestinian issue since Arafat declared independence in Algeria in 1988.
"I am the leader of Hamas. I tell you and the whole world, we are ready to resort to a peaceful way, without blood and weapons," Mashaal said, "as long as we attain our Palestinian demands. A Palestinian state and the ending of the occupation and the (West Bank security) wall."
During the interview Mashaal denied that Hamas was responsible for the bombing of a Tel Aviv bus last week during Operation Pillar of Defense.
This is not the first time Mashaal has claimed that his organization is willing to accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders in return for a long term calm (hudna) with Israel. However, what was peculiar was the moderate tone of his words in comparison to the heated comments of Hamas' leaders in Gaza since the ceasefire came into effect.
Earlier Sunday, London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat reported that Mashaal will arrive in Gaza next month and participate in a ceremony marking 25 years since Hamas' establishment.
A Hamas figure expressed concerned over Mashaal's arrival, claiming such a visit puts the senior leader at risk as Israel is now like a "wounded tiger" looking for even the smallest of victories to "save face."
Mashaal announced a few months ago that he would not continue serving as Hamas' politiburo head, and within the movement elections for his replacement are already in motion.
It seems that the two leading nominees for the job are Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh and the organization's deputy politburo chief, Mousa Abu Marzook. It is possible that in the wake of Operation Pillar of Defense the situation will change and there will be mounting pressure on Mashaal to stay on as politburo chief.