Mahmoud al-Zahar, who is also a senior Hamas leader, told the British newspaper the Times that he wanted clarification on the two-state proposal from the "quartet" of Middle East mediators - the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia.
   
Hamas, a resistence movement that swept parliamentary elections in January, is sworn to destroy Israel.

But Western states say they will cut off aid to the Palestinians unless Hamas renounces violence, recognises Israel's right to exist and abides by interim peace agreements.
   
Al-Zahar told the Times: "Let us speak about what is the meaning of the two-state solution. We will ask them what is their concept concerning the two-state solution? What is the concept in the quartet about the two-state solution and on what basis?"
   
Mixed messages

"Let us speak about what is the meaning of the two-state solution. We will ask them what is their concept concerning the two-state solution?"

Mahmoud-al-Zahar,
Palestinian foreign minister

Al-Zahar had this week denied referring to a two-state solution to the conflict in a letter to Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general.

Israel calls Hamas a terrorist organisation and has vowed not to negotiate with the group.

The foreign minister said his government would examine the quartet's response and may gauge Palestinian voters' opinions.

"We are going to discuss that in the legislative council and after that we may need [to ask] the general attitudes of our people," he said.