CAIRO: The Islamic group Hamas may consider a one-year cease-fire with Israel, the organization s deputy political leader said in an interview published Saturday in an Egyptian newspaper.
Khaled Mashaal s political deputy, Moussa Abu Marzouk, was one of several senior Hamas leaders who were in Cairo over the past week for talks with Egyptian officials on ways to calm Palestinian infighting and ongoing fighting with Israel.
We may agree to a one-year cease-fire, Abu Marzouk was quoted as saying in an interview with the state-owned daily Al-Ahram. Both parties have to abide by it. Abu Marzouk, who along with Mashaal lives in exile in Syria, demanded that Israel also agree to a truce with Hamas, saying the only way for success was calm on both sides.
Over the past two weeks, Hamas has launched more than 250 so-called Qassam rockets that have a range of about 10 km many slamming into the Israeli border town of Sderot. Two Israelis have been killed by the rockets.
In response, Israeli warplanes have pummeled Hamas targets in Gaza, including training bases and rocket squads, killing more than 60 Palestinians, most of them militants.
In a telephone interview from the Hamas political office in Syria, Mohammad Nazal confirmed that Hamas is considering a truce.
Some private ideas were presented to Hamas (by Egyptian mediators) to reach a truce with Israel, and Hamas is about to undertake the suitable decision, Nazal said.
In the interview with Al-Ahram, Abu Marzouk also said the ball was in Israel s court regarding the Israeli soldier abducted nearly a year ago by Hamas-linked gunmen.
He said the Israeli government has been handed a list of names of Palestinian prisoners, but Israel s response was disappointing, as if they don t want to go ahead to close a deal therefore things stopped there. Israel has detained several Palestinian Hamas lawmakers including Parliament Speaker Abdel Aziz Duaik, since the abduction of Israeli soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit in June last year. The idea was to trade the lawmakers for the soldier, but no deal took place.
About Palestinian infighting, Abu Marzouk said that a meeting between Hamas, Fatah and Egyptian officials will take place after two weeks.
Fatah members held separate talks last week in Cairo with Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and others in an attempt to end fighting between the two factions.
Fatah and Hamas reached a truce more than a week ago to stem fierce factional fighting that killed more than 50 Palestinians, but tension between the two groups remains high.
Relations between the two Palestinian factions have been tense ever since Hamas won a majority in the 2006 legislative elections. The two groups agreed to form a national unity government in February, but clashes resumed afterward.
A delegation from Palestinian Islamic-Jihad is scheduled to arrive here for similar talks Sunday. -Associated Press writer Albert Aji contributed to this report from Damascus, Syria.