Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist to end international sanctions

The attitude of Hamas government towards Israel has long been the reason of the international community’s concerns. But today it seems that the situation has improved.

Hamas has made a major political climbdown by agreeing to sections of a document that recognise Israel's right to exist and a negotiated two-state solution, according to Palestinian leaders.

In a bitter struggle for power, Hamas is bowing to an ultimatum from the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to endorse the document drawn up by Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails, or face a national referendum on the issue that could see the Islamist group stripped of power if it loses.

But final agreement on the paper, designed to end international sanctions against the Hamas government that have crippled the Palestinian economy, has been slowed by wrangling over a national unity administration and the question of who speaks for the Palestinians.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation's executive committee and a lead negotiator on the prisoners' document, said Hamas had agreed to sections which call for a negotiated and final agreement with Israel to establish a Palestinian state on the territories occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem.

"Hamas is prepared to accept those parts of the document because they think it is a way to get rid of a lot of its problems with the international community. That's why it will accept all the document eventually," he said.

Hamas, facing a deep internal split over recognition of the Jewish state, declined to discuss the negotiations in detail.

If it formally approves the entire document, it will represent a significant shift from its founding goal of replacing Israel with an Islamic state and its more recent position of agreeing a long-term ceasefire, over a generation or more, if a Palestinian state is formed on the occupied territories but without formally recognizing the Jewish state, The Guardian reports.

Western sanctions against Hamas – which Israel, the US and EU list as a terror group – have bankrupted the Palestinian government, holding up salary payments for public workers.

Partial pay-day finally arrived today for thousands of workers in Gaza, as the Hamas-led government dipped into suitcases its leaders carried across the border and handed out three crisp 100 US dollar notes to some of their desperate employees.

But only postal banks dared handle the money because commercial banks fear anti-terrorism sanctions.
Last week Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar, a Hamas leader, hauled €16m in cash across the Egyptian border into Gaza, and another official followed with £1.1m (€1.6m). The money distributed to workers yesterday came from those suitcases.

The Palestinian Authority is the largest employer in the West Bank and Gaza with 165,000 workers, and their salaries add up to about €100m a month. The last three pay-days have been missed, and another is due in less than two weeks, IrelandOn-line says.

Source: agencies

Prepared by Alexander Timoshik

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Author`s name Alex Naumov