Jerusalem, April 20 — A top Hamas official said the terrorist group is willing to consider a lasting ceasefire with Israel but still rejects a peace deal with the Jewish state. The ceasefire, or hudna, according to Iran-backed Hamas' No. 2 leader, Mousa Abu Marzouk, would be similar to arrangements between Israel and Syria and Israel and Lebanon.
“Let’s establish a relationship between the two states in the historic Palestinian land as a hudna between both sides,” Marzouk said during a wide-ranging, two-day interview with The Forward newspaper. “It’s better than war and better than the continuous resistance against the occupation.”
But that doesn’t mean Hamas plans to soften its stance on its position toward Israel.
“We will not recognize Israel as a state,” he said emphatically. “It will be like the relationship between Lebanon and Israel or Syria and Israel.” Neither, according to the interview, did Marzouk say Hamas planned to renounce terrorism or live by previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements – principles set forth by the Middle East Quartet. The Quartet comprises the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia.
Neither, Marzouk said, would he be willing to negotiate with Israel for the ceasefire. And any changes in Hamas’ stance toward Israel, Marzouk said, would have to be approved in a referendum that includes votes by Palestinian refugees worldwide.
The Forward’s interview, according to the American Jewish newspaper, “appeared to be Marzouk's attempt to express a new readiness for reducing conflict in practice, even if Hamas still stridently opposes the Quartet's demands.”
The article included commentary by several Middle East experts and analysts such as David Makovsky, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Unfortunately,” Makovsky said of Marzouk’s comments in the interview, “it’s a validation of those who believe Hamas has a far way to go before it becomes a legitimate Palestinian interlocutor.”