"Negotiations are a means. If Israel has anything to offer on the issues of halting attacks, withdrawal, releasing prisoners ... then 1,000 means can be found," Reuters quoted senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar as telling reporters Monday, January 23.
As an example, he cited contacts the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah held with Israel, via German mediators, for the release of Lebanese held in Israeli jails.
"Negotiation is not a taboo," Zahar said. "But the political crime is when we sit with the Israelis and then come out with a wide smile to tell the Palestinian people that there is progress, when in fact, there is not."
Zahar, however, stressed that "our entry into the political arena in no way signifies that we are renouncing our right to resistance.
Palestinians vote in a parliamentary election Wednesday in which Hamas is running for the first time.
The group, popular among the Palestinians for its anti-corruption stand and extensive charity work, is expected to make a strong showing.
Its strong performance in polls in the lead-up to Wednesday's vote has raised the prospect of entering government.
Most opinion polls show Hamas trailing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement, but the margin had narrowed to a few percentage points.
The main resistance groups have, meanwhile, announced that they agreed to maintain calm and stop fighters carrying weapons during the election.
The seven groups, including the armed wing of Hamas and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, said they were ready to support the entire process until the results were declared.
"Negotiation is not a taboo," Zahar said.
On the Israeli side, acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will declare in a keynote speech Tuesday, January 24, that Israel is unafraid of the prospect of Hamas taking power in this week's Palestinian election.
"I am not afraid of the results of the election in the Palestinian Authority and I hope that, whatever the result, it will move Israel forward towards a settlement with the Palestinians," Israeli Maariv newspaper quoted Olmert as planning to say.
The speech, to be made at a security conference north of Tel Aviv, will be Olmert's first public policy address ahead of Israel's general election in March since he became acting premier following the collapse of Ariel Sharon, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).
He intends to declare that while Israel would prefer a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians, he cannot rule out the possibility of further unilateral withdrawals from Palestinian territory.
Israeli Labour party leader Amir Peretz vowed Monday to never negotiate with Hamas unless it revokes a call for Israel's destruction.
"On the one hand, we will never, under any circumstances, conduct negotiations with an organization which declares its intention to destroy the State of Israel, but on the other hand, we will never agree to a political deadlock," Peretz said in a live broadcast.
"Should Hamas rise to power and refuse to renounce its call for Israel's destruction, a Labour government would look for complete separation from the Palestinians."
In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair told a news conference Monday it would be difficult for the West to negotiate with or talk to Hamas "unless there's a very clear renunciation of terrorism".
Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European Union's external relations commissioner, said in Brussels the EU would not rule out working with a Palestinian government that included Hamas, provided it sought "peace by peaceful means" with Israel.
Well-placed sources told Israeli Ha'aretz newspaper Monday that the US and EU had promised Israel not to recognize any future Palestinian government that would include Hamas.
Hamas has already omitted from its election manifesto its long-standing call to destroy Israel, adapting to the rules of the political game.
In June of last year, an EU diplomat told AFP that the euro bloc had been in contacts with Hamas.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the meetings between Hamas and EU diplomats were held in the occupied Palestinian territories and abroad.
Source: Islamonline.netGüncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16