Hamas awaits truce offer reply

Meshaal warns Israel of further violence if they reject ceasefire proposal.

    Meshaal said truce cannot be viewed as a permanent measure [Ranjit Bhaskar/Al Jazeera]

    Khaled Meshaal, the exiled political leader of the Hamas movement, has said that Hamas is still awaiting Egypt's official stance after a day of closed-door meetings between Omar Suleiman, the country's intelligence chief who has been mediating between Hamas and Israel, with respect to a six-month ceasefire.

    Your Views

    Should Israel accept a truce with Hamas?

    Send us your views

    A deal, which Egypt has been trying to broker for months, still appears distant because the group is demanding Israel open its blockaded border crossings with the Gaza Strip.

    In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera on Saturday, Meshaal said that the proposed ceasefire can be considered "a tactic conducting the struggle".

    He said: "It is normal for any resistance that operates in its people's interest ... to sometimes escalate, other times retreat a bit... The battle is to be run this way and Hamas is known for that.
    "In 2003, there was a ceasefire and then the operations were resumed."

    'Further escalation'

    Meshaal also warned of an escalation of violence in Gaza if Israel rejected the truce.

    "We are ready to cooperate seriously from a place of power," said Meshaal.

    "If Israel does not accept, then we welcome confrontation."

    Meshaal also demanded that Israel lift the closure of Gaza's borders.

    "If the blockade is not to be lifted from Gaza, then the Gaza Strip will explode."

    However, Israel's former deputy defence minister says it is not in Israel's interest to strike a truce deal with Hamas.

    Ephraim Sneh told local radio on Saturday that a truce and anything else that would prolong Hamas's rule in Gaza is not in Israel's interest. He said that Israel would eventually have to try to oust Hamas by force.

    Readiness expressed

    Meshaal told Al Jazeera of his readiness to hold a reconciliation meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.

    However, he criticised Abbas for holding peace negotiations with Israel but hindering reconciliation talks with Hamas.

    Abbas has voiced cautious support for the truce initiative.

    Nimer Hammad, an aide to Abbas, said: "We hope that this proposal is a serious one, and we hope it will be taken seriously by Israel."
    Prisoner swap
    The deal mediated by Egypt would also include a prisoner swap.

    However, Meshaal said that negotiations to swap Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit for Palestinian prisoners were on hold because Israel had rejected the list of prisoners that Hamas had offered.

    Shalit was captured by Hamas near Gaza two years ago.

    Supportive Abbas
    Meanwhile, Abbas said on Sunday that Egypt had his unconditional support for mediation efforts with Israel, even as Palestinian factions are preparing to meet in Cairo to discuss a possible truce.
    "The Palestinian authority unconditionally supports the efforts undertaken by Egypt to achieve a truce in Gaza," said Abbas after talks with Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president.
    Egypt has been serving as a go-between in the truce negotiations as Israel considers Hamas, which has control of the Gaza Strip, as a terror group and refuses any direct contacts.
    George Bush, the US president,  visits the region in May and that is when Egypt will host a meeting between Bush and Abbas, aiming to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab states have launched more than 19,278 air raids across Yemen.

    Lost childhoods: Nigeria's fear of 'witchcraft' ruins young lives

    Lost childhoods: Nigeria's fear of 'witchcraft' ruins young lives

    Many Pentecostal churches in the Niger Delta offer to deliver people from witchcraft and possession - albeit for a fee.

    Why did Bush go to war in Iraq?

    Why did Bush go to war in Iraq?

    No, it wasn't because of WMDs, democracy or Iraqi oil. The real reason is much more sinister than that.