Hamas will honor a peace treaty with Israel if the results of a Palestinian referendum approve the deal, said the group's leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh.The new, improved "moderate Hamas" meme has been in the news before - a nearly identical story came out in 2008 and again in 2009. Both times Haniyeh spoke to Western reporters or diplomats and they ate it up.
Haniyeh said during a rare news conference Wednesday in the Gaza Strip that Hamas would "accept a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital, the release of Palestinian prisoners and the resolution of the issue of refugees," Reuters reported.
The admission runs counter to the Hamas charter, which states that all of the land of Palestine, including what is now Israel, is a Muslim birthright and should not be ceded to Israel. The charter also calls for the destruction of Israel.
Not as widely reported is that afterwards, in Arabic, he clarified his position to make sure that no Arab would think that he has done anything remotely peaceful. From Al Quds al Arabi:
Ismail Haniyeh, head of the deposed government run by Hamas, said his movement will not give up the rights of the Palestinian people, and said that talk of an 'interim order' does not mean compromising with 'Palestinian principles'.To emphasize the point, Hamas spokesman Hammad Riqib* said it more explicitly:
Haniyeh said that Hamas's position is 'not to neglect any of the rights of the Palestinian people, concession and retreat from any fixed principles of the Palestinian [cause]'.
He added, 'when talking about any interim order it does not mean compromising Palestinian rights and constants'.
The spokesman of the Hamas in Khan Yunis Hammad Riqib stated that his movement is on its way to liberate the Al Aqsa Mosque and all of Palestine from the sea to the river.As usual, we will not expect to see any major Western media outlet cover these clarifications of Hamas' "moderation."
Riqib said "Hamas was able for more than three decades to stick to our principles..."
He added "The Hamas movement does not rely on slogans and sayings, but the movement has translated into actions on the ground," stressing that Palestine is the homeland, Palestine is Islamic and not even one inch it may be waived or compromised.
He said: "Hamas has directed people towards a culture of resistance and preserving the principles, and provided for that constellation of martyrs, led by founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and other leaders of the martyrs, and this is the best guide to everyone on the sincerity of Hamas and its adherence to the principles and not compromising the rights of the people."
* I am assuming that this is Riqib, the auto-translation gives his name as "cervical."