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Friday, November 14, 2003

HAMAS: Our position is clear - all of Palestine

"Every inch of Palestine belongs to the Muslims"
Jerusalem Post, by Khaled Abu Toameh
Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin said Friday that he is prepared to discuss a cease fire with the new Palestinian Prime Minister.

On Thursday, Hamas confirmed that its representatives were holding talks with Egyptian and Palestinian Authority officials to discuss the possibility of reaching a new cease-fire agreement.

"We do not have any objection to dialogue," Yassin said. "We'll listen to what he has to say and then react." However, he ruled out any prospects for an immediate end to attacks.

The rally marked a rare public appearance by the Hamas spiritual leader since he was lightly injured in September when an Israeli plane dropped a bomb on a house where he and other Hamas leaders were meeting.

Mahmoud Zahar, one of the senior Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip, said: "Meetings between Egyptian officials and Hamas have not stopped. We are also holding talks with representatives of other countries." However, Zahar, who has been in hiding since his house was destroyed in an Israel Air Force raid several weeks ago, said efforts to reach a new hudna (temporary truce) have not produced any results until now.

He did not rule out the possibility that Hamas would eventually accept a cease-fire, saying that this would not disgrace the movement. "The cease-fire issue is not about wasting time," he added. "The occupation forces must commit themselves to a cease-fire. The Zionist entity is saying that it wants a hudna because it is helpless and defeated. The statements of the pilots and the chief of General Staff reflect the internal turmoil inside the Zionist entity."

Zahar was referring to a petition signed by reservist IAF pilots opposed to the policy of assassinations and statements attributed to Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon in which he called for easing restrictions on the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

He said Hamas is prepared to meet with PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei about reaching a new cease-fire. But he lashed out at the composition of the new PA cabinet, pointing out that many ministers whose names have been linked to corruption have returned to their posts.

Of the "Geneva Initiative," hammered out between Israeli left-wing politicians and Palestinian intellectuals, Zahar said: "Our position is clear: all of Palestine. Every inch of Palestine belongs to the Muslims. Some marginal elements in the Palestinian Authority have begun trading with the Palestinian cause as they did in Oslo."

He denied his group was involved in the roadside bomb attack on a US convoy in the Gaza Strip last month, in which three Americans were killed. "Undoubtedly, the whole world hates the US because of its aggression against our people and the people of Iraq," he said.

No wonder nobody gets it

In this photo caption, REUTERS mentions neither that HAMAS is out to get every inch of Palestine for the Muslims, nor that they see Israel as "helpless and defeated" - but rather only that they are "willing to hold talks" --

Masked members of Islamic militant movement Hamas parade at a rally in Gaza city
on November 14, 2003. The leader of the militant Islamic group Hamas said on Friday
it was willing to hold talks with Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie on a cease-fire
with Israel. REUTERS/Oleg Popov