Hamas has offered a six-month truce in Gaza, saying it will stop firing rockets into Israel if the Jewish state agrees to lift its blockade of the Palestinian territory. But Israeli government spokespeople have shown little interest in the deal.
VOICE OF ZAA NKWETA: Hamas is proposing a six-month calm with Israel, saying it will stop firing rockets out of Gaza if the Jewish state simultaneously lifts its blockade of the coastal strip.
April 24, 2008
MAHMOUD ZAHAR, HAMAS LEADER (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): We have confirmed the movement’s approval of a calm in the Gaza Strip as the first part of a national consensus so that it would be extended later to the West Bank. The duration has been set for six months, during which Egypt will seek to extend calm to the West Bank. In the event that Israel rejects the calm, Egypt would open the Rafah crossing, and if Israel reneges on the calm, Egypt will keep the Rafah crossing open.
NKWETA: Egypt’s state-run MENA News Agency said that the proposal followed a day of closed meetings between Zahar and Egypt’s intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, who has been mediating between Israel and Hamas in hopes of halting their fighting. Zahar said the “calm” offer had the blessing of Hamas’ exiled top leadership in Syria. He said Egypt would outline his group’s proposal in talks with other Palestinian factions next week, after which Suleiman planned to take it to Israel for consideration. An Israeli government spokesman said the proposal would only allow Hamas time to reorganize its military operations.
April 25, 2008
DAVID BAKER, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN: Israel is interested in peace. Unfortunately, Hamas is not serious. Hamas is trying to buy time, trying to regroup and reorganize. Israel is compelled to carry out defensive measures. These measures would not be necessary if Hamas would cease and desist from carrying out terrorist activities against Israel.
NKWETA: The public shift in Hamas’ position began with statements by Khaled Mashaal, the group’s Syrian base senior leader, after he met with Former President Carter last week.
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