Washington, Asharq Al-Awsat- The New York Times has revealed that the retraction issued by Khalid Mishal, the head of the Hamas political bureau, with regards to statements made during an interview in which he did not rule out [potentially] accepting a two-state solution is perhaps a result of pressure on him. Ethan Bronner, the New York Times journalist who conducted the interview with Mishal informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “neither Khalid Mishal nor any of his aides have informed us that we misunderstood what he said. He may have been put under pressure to retract what he said.” Bronner added that “the interview was recorded and we are in possession of a copy.”
In the interview in which Mishal disembarked from the Hamas party line by flirting with Washington, he said that the movement had stopped firing rockets into Israel and was seeking a long-term truce with the country. Mishal also indicated that Hamas would support a two-state solution along the 1967 borders. During the interview that lasted a total of five hours and was conducted over a period of two days Mishal also said that “I pledge to both the US administration and the international community that we [Hamas] will be part of [finding] a lasting solution.”
However following the publication of the interview on 6 May the Hamas website published a retraction denying that Mishal had said that the movement had ceased its rocket attacks on Israel. During a press conference held in Damascus on 9 May, Mishal said that it had been alleged that he [potentially] accepted the two-state solution but that “we did not announce this, we said that we would accept…a fully sovereign Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital, and the full right of return [for Palestinian refugee], full sovereignty over the borders along with the dismantling of settlements.”
In the meantime there have been reports that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas – who will arrive in Washington later this month – will listen to the Obama administration’s opinion with regards to dealing with Hamas. Despite the fact that nothing has changed, Washington is [now] using moderate language when talking of Hamas.