No Recognition of Israel in Hamas-Fatah Deal, Hamas Says

July 7, 2008 - 8:17 PM

Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - Hamas and Fatah have agreed to a deal that calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state within the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinian sources said on Tuesday.

The document was drawn up weeks ago by Palestinians held in Israeli jails, and it has been a source of contention between the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government and P.A. Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction.

Although many press reports have said the document implies the recognition of the State of Israel, Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad said that recognition of Israel is not an issue.

"No, no. It does not mention recognition of Israel," said Hamad by telephone from the Gaza Strip. "We are talking about a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders [West Bank and Gaza Strip]."

Israel pulled its communities out of the Gaza Strip last summer but has said that it would hold onto large settlement blocs -- where more than 100,000 Israelis live -- in any final deal with the Palestinians.

Also included in the agreement is a commitment to limit terror attacks to the Palestinian territories. According to a radio report, the agreement also says that militant groups would stop firing Kassam rockets at Israel.

Islamic Jihad, which has carried out a number of suicide bombing attacks in Israel during this last year, did not sign the agreement. It's not clear if the military wing of Hamas, which receives its orders from Damascus, will accept the document.

The head of the Fatah parliamentary bloc, Azzam al-Ahmed, was quoted by AFP as saying that the agreement would be unveiled Tuesday evening to Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

Israel has kept quiet about the document, calling it is an internal Palestinian affair.

The deal is intended to bridge the gap between Hamas and Fatah and give Abbas the backing he needs to negotiate with Israel. The international community has set three conditions for dealing with the Hamas led P.A.: recognize Israel, quit terrorism, and keep agreements already made between Israel and the Palestinians.

Hamas' acceptance of the document would also cancel Abbas' planned referendum.

An opinion poll from the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, published on Monday, showed that while 74 percent of Palestinians support what is known as the "prisoners' document" or "national conciliation document," only 47 percent would vote in favor of it in a referendum.

Research director Dr. Khalil Shikaki said that the results show that while Palestinians agree with the contents of the document, they are buying into the Hamas narrative, which says that Abbas is trying to circumvent election results that put Hamas in power.

The public suspects that Abbas is trying to "isolate and strangulate" Hamas, said Shikaki. The results also say that if Hamas plays its cards right, it can get rid of Abbas, he said.

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