Saturday, November 8, 2008

Hamas willing to accept Israel and 1967 borders

Hamas' leader in the Gaza Strip announced that he would be willing to accept a Palestinian state alongside Israel and grant them a long-term truce if Israel returned to its 1967 borders (the Gaza Strip, West Bank and Golan Heights all were captured by Israel from their Arab neighbors during the Six Day War).

Ismail Haniyeh went on to say that "our conflict is not with the Jews, our problem is with the occupation," which is kind of a surprising comment for a leader of Hamas to make since that organization's stated purpose in the past was to destroy Israel. But there have been a number of surprising statements coming out of Israel in the past few weeks around the idea of peace with the Palestinians. Outgoing Prime Minsiter Ehud Olmert also talked about Israel withdrawing from almost all of the land it captured in '67 in return for a peace deal with the Palestinians, while Israel's current Defense Minister and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak suggested Israel dust off a proposal Saudi Arabia made back in 2002 that Israel pull back to its 1967 borders in return for a comprehensive peace agreement with basically the entire Arab world.

It makes you wonder why then our Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Saturday that the prospects for a peace deal with Palestine before President Bush leaves office were essentially dead? Yes, these are only statements being made to the media by leaders in Israel and Palestine, but they are talking about making the kinds of sacrifices that have derailed all of the other past attempts at peace. If you have the leaders of the two sides speaking so bluntly, you have to wonder why the Bush administration doesn't jump at the chance at pulling off a last-minute peace deal? It would certainly be a better foreign policy legacy for Bush than the twin quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Haniyeh made his statements during a press conference to meet a group of 11 European politicians who had sailed to Gaza from Cyprus to defy an Israeli blockade of the territory.
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