Amjad Atallah, director of the New America Foundation, explains how Hamas has once again talked about accepting a Palestinian state along 1967 borders. And once again, the world accuses the group of being inflexible. Who is really the intransigent one now?
The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Hamas Chief Khaled Meshaal told Jay Solomon and Julien Barnes-Dacey in an interview that “We along with other Palestinian factions in consensus agreed upon accepting a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines. This is the national program. This is our program. This is a position we stand by and respect.” Meshaal also insisted that Hamas would commit to an immediate reciprocal cease-fire with Israel and a prisoner swap.
Anti-Hamas activists will note that he also insisted that he would accept and respect a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders “as part of a broader peace agreement with Israel” if Israel accepted the right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees and the establishment of a capital for the Palestinian state in East Jerusalem.
But what is fascinating is that Meshaal has in fact, parroted the official negotiating position of the PLO and of Fatah. Even though a number of PLO leaders have privately admitted to Israelis that they might forgo the right of return in exchange for the 1967 borders, this has never been the official negotiating position and even President Mahmoud Abbas has publicly stuck to the line that there needs to be a “just and agreed” resolution of the refugee issue. On East Jerusalem, there is no daylight between the Hamas and PLO position.
Most importantly, Meshaal seems to be indicating that Hamas now endorses the US attempt to negotiate an end to the occupation.