The chief of Palestinian militant group Hamas said his organization is prepared to cooperate with the U.S. in promoting a peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict if the White House can secure an Israeli settlement freeze and a lifting of the economic and military blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Khaled Meshaal, 53 years old, said in a 90-minute interview at Hamas’s Syrian headquarters that his political party and military wing would commit to an immediate reciprocal cease-fire with Israel, as well as a prisoner swap that would return Hamas fighters for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
He also said his organization would accept and respect a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders as part of a broader peace agreement with Israel—provided Israeli negotiators accept the right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees and the establishment of a capital for the Palestinian state in East Jerusalem. [continued…]
Perhaps no Fatah figure has become as emblematic of the failures of Fatah as Dahlan, the polarizing politician who’s been alternately embraced and shunned by America.
Dahlan is viewed with skepticism by some American security leaders and reviled by Hamas for his heavy-handed crackdown on the Islamic group as the former head of security in Gaza.
Dahlan has kept a low profile since his Gaza City home was looted and burned during the 2007 Hamas takeover.
Now he’s preparing to run for the Fatah Central Committee.
“If Dahlan wins, then Fatah will have lost,” said Mohanned Abdel Hamid, a political analayst and occasional columnist for al Ayyam newspaper. “He is dangerous and self-serving.”
On a recent afternoon at the Elite coffee shop in Ramallah, a small group of middle-aged Fatah members who hope to take part in the convention criticized Dahlan and the old Fatah leaders.
“He is the main reason for the dispersed state of Fatah and he has not been held accountable for his actions,” said Allam Hattab, a Fatah member from Tulkarem who accused Dahlan of trying to buy votes. “I’m telling you, there will be a split after the conference.” [continued…]