Hamas Rejects ‘Jewish State’ Demand

The leader of the Palestinian group Hamas’s political bureau has refused to recognize Israel as Jewish state.

At the same time, Khaled Meshaal has endorsed the idea of a two-state solution, accepting the creation of a Palestinian state within 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The comments came in an address to supporters in the Syrian capital Damascus on Thursday.

"We reiterate our rejection of the so-called Jewish state of Israel and we warn of any lenience toward this principle," he said.

"The call by the Israeli leader for a Jewish state is nothing but a racist call, no different from Nazis and other calls denounced by the international community."

Meshaal welcomed what he said is "new language" by Barack Obama, the US president, towards Hamas.

"We appreciate Obama’s new language towards Hamas. And it is the first step in the right direction towards a dialogue without conditions, and we welcome this," he said.

Meshaal said that Obama’s words must be followed by action on the ground, mentioning that Palestinians in the Gaza Strip continue to suffer under an Israeli blockade.

"Occupation and injustice go on," he said.

He also said there were optimistic signs in relation to negotiations between Hamas and its rival Fatah of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.

Talks with Fatah would continue this coming Sunday in the Egyptian capital Cairo, Meshaal said.

He also called on Obama to pull out Lieutenant-General Keith Dayton, the US security co-ordinator in the region, who is supervising the training of Palestinian forces in the West Bank.

Double Message

Lamis Andoni, Al Jazeera’s senior Middle East analyst, said that Meshaal’s speech sent two messages "that aim at repositioning Hamas as an acceptable negotiator at peace talks and as a more credible representative of the Palestinians than the Palestinian Authority."

The first message was to the West. He has signaled that Hamas is a pragmatic movement and has officially endorsed the  two-state solution – that is, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.

"The second message was addressed to the Palestinians," Andoni said.

"By calling on the American president to withdraw General Dayton from his mission, he was indirectly accusing the Palestinian Authority of cracking down on Hamas on behalf of America and Israel.

"Hamas seems to be competing with the PA over who should be on the negotiating table rather than on trying to assert its resistance-based political platform. The irony is that, it can only get a place at the negotiating table, under the current conditions, is by accepting the terms, including the role of General Dayton".

‘Positive Tone’

Ghassan Khatib, an analyst at Birzeit University in Ramallah, told Al Jazeera: "This speech is an attempt to reciprocate the positive tone we have heard from President Obama.

"I believe that Meshaal is trying to send positive signals to the American side in order to take step in their direction.

"In terms of a response to the Israel side, there’s no major difference between what Meshaal said and what other Palestinian leaders have said about refusing the Jewish state idea and the insistence on stopping the expansion of settlements and so on.

"The Americans have to ensure change in the internal politics in both Israel and Palestine in order to create situations that are more conducive to peacemaking on both sides."
(Aljazeera.net English and Agencies)

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