Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Avi Issacharoff, "Jailed Hamas official: If we win PA chair, we'll talk with Israel," Ha'aretz, June 21, 2006.

Sheikh Hassan Yusuf, a member of the Palestinian parliament and the most senior Hamas member in an Israeli jail, told Haaretz in an interview from prison: "If Hamas participates in elections for Palestinian Authority chairman and wins, undoubtedly we'll conduct diplomatic negotiations with Israel."

Yusuf spoke with Haaretz for an hour from Ketziot prison despite a ban by the Shin Bet security service and the Prisons Service on interviews with him. He is awaiting trial for membership in Hamas. Yusuf, 51, from Ramallah, is considered one of the organization's more moderate leaders.

Yusuf said a lengthy cease-fire that would take effect if Israel withdrew to the 1967 borders would be considered a kind of recognition of two entities side by side.

He said the green light Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh gave to ministers to talk with Israel on technical matters showed a type of willingness for dialogue.

"Hamas' doors are open to everyone," he said. "Willingness for a state based on the '67 borders and a long-term hudna are a very positive change in the stand of the organization."

Yusuf warned that if the Hamas government were toppled the organization would go underground, leading to a severe escalation.
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