Hamas Official Floats Idea of 5-Year Truce

He says Hamas is open to ceasefire under specific parameters
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 25, 2024 12:00 AM CDT
Hamas Official Says Group Is Open to a Truce
Khalil al-Hayya, a high-ranking official with Hamas, who has represented it in negotiations for a ceasefire and hostage exchange deal, speaks during an interview with the AP in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, April 24, 2024.   (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

A top Hamas political official told the AP that the Islamic militant group is willing to agree to a truce of five years or more with Israel and that it would lay down its weapons and convert into a political party if an independent Palestinian state is established along pre-1967 borders. The comments by Khalil al-Hayya in an interview Wednesday came amid a stalemate in months of ceasefire talks. The suggestion that Hamas would disarm appeared to be a significant concession by the militant group officially committed to Israel's destruction. Al-Hayya, a high-ranking Hamas official who has represented the Palestinian militants in negotiations for a ceasefire and hostage exchange, struck a sometimes defiant and other times conciliatory tone.

Speaking to the AP in Istanbul, Al-Hayya said Hamas wants to join the Palestine Liberation Organization, headed by the rival Fatah faction to form a unified government for Gaza and the West Bank. He said Hamas would accept "a fully sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the return of Palestinian refugees in accordance with the international resolutions," along Israel's pre-1967 borders. If that happens, he said, the group's military wing would dissolve. Al-Hayya did not say whether his apparent embrace of a two-state solution would amount to an end to the Palestinian conflict with Israel or an interim step toward the group's stated goal of destroying Israel.

But it's unlikely Israel would consider such a scenario. It has vowed to crush Hamas following the deadly Oct. 7 attacks that triggered the war, and its current leadership is adamantly opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state on lands Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war. There was no immediate reaction from Israel or the Palestinian Authority—the internationally recognized self-ruled government that Hamas drove out when it seized Gaza in 2007, a year after winning Palestinian parliamentary elections. After the Hamas takeover of Gaza, the Palestinian Authority was left with administering semi-autonomous pockets of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. (Click for more from the AP's interview with Al-Hayya, who also addressed the remaining Israeli hostages.)

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