Friday, May 12, 2006

Hamas militants propose recognition of Israel

According to Hamas members, there's a spirited debate going on within the party about recognizing Israel.

Many Hamas leaders favor recognizing Israel, but Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar and the group's top leader, Syria-based Khaled Mashaal, have refused, the official said.

The debate became public with the release of a proposal worked out by top militants, including those from Hamas, imprisoned in Israeli jails. The document calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state on the lands Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast War: the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.

Whether such a land-for-peace deal is acceptable to Israel is a matter of debate. And several other demands in the document, notably the right of return for Palestinian refugees, are strongly opposed by Israel. So the proposal is best considered a work in progress.

In some other promising signs, Israel said it would be willing to use some of its impounded tax payments to the Palestinian Authority for humanitarian efforts within Palestine. And Fatah and Hamas have agreed to stop violent clashes, a step away from civil war if it holds. However violence continued even after the truce.

Baby steps all. But steps in the right direction.

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