News :: Civil and Human Rights

Haniyeh tells Haaretz: Withdrawal to 1967 borders will lead to peace

23 May 2006

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh told Haaretz
yesterday that the Hamas government is prepared to agree
to an extended cease-fire if Israel withdraws to the 1967
"If Israel([search]) withdraws to the 1967 borders, peace will
prevail and we will implement a cease-fire [hudna] for
many years," Haniyeh said during an interview in his south
Gaza([search]) office. "Our government is prepared to maintain a
long-term cease-fire with Israel."

Palestinian Transportation Minister Ziad Zaza described
the hudna during the interview as "the cease-fire that
will be renewed automatically each time."

Haniyeh expressed surprise that the Israeli government has
not been accepting of the Palestinian government's
decision allowing its ministers to conduct negotiations
with representatives of the Israeli government regarding
day-to-day issues. The decision was one of the first that
the Hamas government made, and Haniyeh sees it as fitting
in with his approach - that his government is ready for
talks with Israel on practical matters, though not on
ideological or political issues.

When asked about his government's failure to indicate the
slightest interest in changing its positions or to accept
the Arab peace initiative presented at the 2002 Beirut
summit, Haniyeh responded: "That is an issue between us
and the Arabs."

The prime minister wouldn't discuss the Hamas charter
rejecting the existence of Israel, saying, "Leave Hamas
aside now - I am speaking to you as the leader of the
Palestinian government, the government of all the
Palestinians, and not as the leader of a movement."

Haniyeh and his associates are upset that their government
has been depicted as a Hamas government, insisting that it
be referred to as "the Palestinian government."

Haniyeh also said that Israel must give the Palestinian
Authority the tax monies it has collected and decided to
withhold. He said the transfer of NIS 50 million in
medicines and medical supplies to Palestinian medical
centers, which the cabinet approved Sunday, represented
only a small portion of the money Israel must pay the

Despite the violent incidents that continued in the Gaza
Strip yesterday, the crowded streets conveyed an
impression of relative quiet. Members of the new
Palestinian security force, which is under the
jurisdiction of the Palestinian interior minister, are
posted at Gaza junctions. They are all armed, wear dark
uniforms and appear orderly, in contrast to the members of
other security forces, who stand beside them and
occasionally look unkempt. Many argue that the deployment
of the new security force, whose members are mostly from
Hamas, brought Gaza to the threshold of civil war.

But Palestinian government spokesman Ghazi Hamed said that
despite the tension, there will not be a civil war,
because nobody wants one. He said Gaza has its full of
other problems: an economic and political siege,
unemployment, a paralyzed economy and workers who aren't
receiving their salaries.

"None of us are receiving our salaries, not even Prime
Minister Haniyeh or the government ministers," said Hamed.

He said the government had no choice but to organize a new
security force to protect the residents from the armed
gangs and militias that have sprung up over the years,
which Hamed said the existing security forces were not
able to control. "The residents are satisfied and support
these forces," he said.

Fatah members said the public did not support the
competing security force. At a meeting of Fatah activists
who described themselves as leaders of its military wing,
the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, one activist complained
that the Fatah movement had not responded quickly and
decisively enough to stop the deployment of the Hamas
forces, which he views as illegal. "Don't get the mistaken
impression that the public likes them," he said. "They're
scared of them."

Nonetheless, the members of the various security forces
appear to be getting along with each other. At one square
on Al-Jala Boulevard, which leads from the Jabalya refugee
camp([search]) to central Gaza, police officers from the security
force that answers to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas were
chatting with the Hamas-affiliated "operational forces."

"These aren't foreign youths who came from the moon," said
a passerby. "They're all our people, members of the same
families and the same neighborhoods, and they won't attack
each other."

Hamed said support for Hamas is increasing daily, and that
Hamas raised $250,000 for needy Gazans over the weekend.
He also said Hamas would ultimately adapt its ideology to
the current situation.

"With time we will suit our positions to reality and
change," he said. "But under no circumstances will we do
so under the pressure of a siege and only to get money. As
we have already said, we will eat bread and hyssop
[za'atar] and not give in."

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An inglorious peace is better than a dishonorable war.
-- Mark Twain
Source: "Glances at History" (suppressed)

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