Hamas leader proposes end violence

The Hamas leader who is the new Palestinian prime minister said the result of Israel's election offered nothing to the Palestinians, but raised the prospect of an end to violence in return for "constructive and fair" treatment by the international community.

In a column published Friday in Britain's Guardian newspaper, Ismail Haniyeh said "this is a good time for peacemaking, if the world wants peace."

The new Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government has said it will not give in to international pressure and negotiate with Israel, whose destruction Hamas has long sought.

In the Guardian article, Haniyeh rejected demands from the international community to recognize Israel, and said Palestinians "will remain committed to our struggle to get back our lands and our freedom."

"Peaceful means will do if the world is willing to engage in a constructive and fair process in which we and the Israelis are treated as equals," he added.

"Though we are the victims, we offer our hands in peace, but only a peace that is based on justice," he wrote.

He also said a revival of the more mainstream Palestine Liberation Organization, which dominated Palestinian politics for decades under the late Yasser Arafat and is now led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, was "essential so that it can resume its role in speaking for the Palestinians and presenting their case to the world."

Haniyeh raised the prospect of "an end to hostilities by both sides" in return for "a total Israeli withdrawal from all the land occupied in 1967, including east Jerusalem; the release of all our prisoners; the removal of all settlers from all settlements; and recognition of the right of all refugees to return", conditions no Israeli government is likely to accept, reports the AP.

I.L.

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