London, Asharq Al-Awsat- In a sign it was softening its stance, Hamas expressed its willingness to accept a temporary solution to the Palestinian problem that would allow an independent Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 war and the return of refugees.
Mohammad Ghazal, one of the movement’s leaders in the West Bank, told Asharq al Awsat, “We accept this solution which was introduced by (the late founder) Sheikh Ahamd Yassin in 1998.”
Asked whether the Islamic group would recognize the state of Israel, Ghazal said, “Israel is an occupying country. Once it ends its occupation of Palestinian land and gives the Palestinians their rights, we can discuss the matter”, implying the recognition of Israel was a possibility.
The Hamas official was responding to comments attributed to him by the Reuters news agency, which claimed the Palestinian movement was ready to alter its charter that called for the destruction of Israel. Ghazal was alleged to have said, “Hamas is willing to reexamine its charter and re-evaluate its position on secondary issues.”
On an article in the founding document advocating the destruction of the Jewish state, Ghazal said, “Hamas seeks a solution to the Palestinian problem by giving the Palestinians all their rights and returning of the people of Palestine to their homes, including the refugees. We want every man to return to his home and land and ensure his rights are preserved.”
He admitted saying, “The Charter is not the word of God” but claimed his words had been taken out of context. In fact, Ghazal told Asharq al Awsat his statement was, “The charter was published in 1988. Hamas can modify certain aspects of the document, and I do not mean fundamental issues, but secondary concerns, within its vision. I said the charter was not the Quran as the Holy Book is absolute while everything else can change.”
Reuters had quoted Ghazal as saying, “Historically, we believe that all Palestinian land is for the Palestinians. However, we are now focused on the current situation…. political solutions… the reality is a different matter.”