JERUSALEM, (AP) – The spokesman for the outgoing Hamas administration said a new Palestinian unity government will have “no problem” holding peace talks with Israel, but expressed doubt that Israel is ready for a deal.
It was unclear if spokesman Ghazi Hamad was voicing official policy or his personal view, or whether he will have a position in the new government.
Speaking to Israel’s Army Radio in Hebrew, Hamad also said the Palestinians are ready for an independent state in territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. The comments, if they represent the official position, would indicate a softening in Hamas’ past calls for Israel’s destruction.
Hamad is close to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who is expected to retain his position in the coalition government with the more moderate Fatah movement of President Mahmoud Abbas. But in the past, Hamad has made moderate statements that were later denied by other members of Hamas.
“This government, with Hamas in the national unity government, we don’t have problem accepting a state,” Hamad told Army Radio. “We have nothing against negotiations, we have nothing against a diplomatic process but we have rights.”
“We have no problem if this government has peace talks with Israel,” he said.
The Hamas-led government, battered by months of international sanctions, said Monday that it would form a coalition with Fatah.
Hamas, which Israel and the West have labeled a terrorist group, would agreed to give Abbas authority over dealings with Israel. Abbas has long called for a resumption of peace talks with Israel.
Hamad said that Hamas doesn’t believe Abbas will succeed.
“He won’t get anything from Israel,” Hamad said.
Hamad said the Islamic group is not prepared to formally recognize Israel’s right to exist — a key demand by Israel and the West. However, the platform of the new government calls for a Palestinian state alongside Israel — effectively granting recognition to the Jewish state.