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Hamas: Israeli plan to finalize borders is act of war
The Palestinian Islamic radical group Hamas's supremo Khaled Meshaal slammed the Israeli government's plan to finalise the country's borders by 2010 as a "declaration of war".

The Hamas leader warned in an AFP interview that the Islamic group would refuse any international aid that required the party to soften its line toward Israel, which it refuses to recognise.

Rhetoric has soared between Israel and Hamas since the Islamic party's trouncing of the long dominant Fatah party at the polls in the Palestinian territories' January elections.

The upset victory has put Meshaal, 50, in the spotlight as the world waits to see whether Hamas, known both for its suicide bombings against Israel and its charity programmes for impoverished Palestinians, will renounce violence.

Meshaal, the Damascus-based political chief, presented a tough face in his interview at his heavily-guarded home in the Mazzeh neighborhood of the Syrian capital.

He denounced Israeli Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's plans to fix Israel's permanent borders by 2010 through unilateral withdrawals from the West Bank.

"This is not a peace plan, but a war declaration, which will permit Israel to stay in the largest section of the West Bank, to maintain their wall and settlements, to refuse all concessions on Jerusalem and to reject the Palestinians' right of return."

"It is a unilateral disengagement by Israel in the interest of its security needs and not the demands of peace," said Meshaal.

"Olmert is in the process of committing the same errors toward the Palestinians that (Ariel) Sharon did."

Olmert, whose ruling centrist movement dominates opinion polls for Israel's election in three weeks, unveiled his new disengagement plan in interviews with the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz newspapers, published Thursday.

Olmert said he envisaged the borders would include the West Bank settlement bloc of Gush Etzion, the Ariel region of settlements in the north, the "Jerusalem envelope", Maale Adumim and the "Jordan River as a security border". Meshaal, a former physics teachers whose family lived near the West Bank town of Ramallah until the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, has previously broached the idea of a long-term truce with Israel, but has offered little in way of detail.

"When Israel commits to pulling back to 1967 borders, including east Jerusalem, destroying the wall, dismantling the settlements, recognising refugees and displaced Palestinians' right to return, and frees all the prisoners, then Hamas will take serious measures toward peace," he told AFP.

Sitting against a backdrop of posters of Hamas leaders killed by Israel, Meshaal, who survived a 1997 assassination attempt in Amman, confessed his life was still in danger.

"Israel does not hide its intention to eliminate the leaders of Hamas, even those who are elected like our brother (Ismail) Haniya," he said, referring to Hamas's designated prime minister, who has been charged with forming the next government in the Palestinian territories.

Israeli officials warned this week they would not rule out assassinating Haniya if he was found to be linked to any attacks against the Jewish state.

Meshaal said as the "top official" in the Islamist movement he hands out "functions and responsibilities according to a mechanism which Hamas prefers to keep secret".

He himself was promoted in 2004 after Israel assassinated the group's spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

Meanwhile, Meshaal also called on Jordan to change its policies toward Hamas since it deported him in 1999 and shut the group's Amman office.

"The manner in which they treat Hamas must change. We are no longer a movement, we represent the Palestinians legally through a democratic process," said Meshaal.

He added Hamas was ready to receive money "from any nation in the world", but would not accept any money on the condition of "political concessions."

Meshal also sought to extricate his party from any link to the Al-Qaeda terror group, whose deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri sought to champion the Palestinian cause and associate itself with Hamas in a message last week.

Hamas "acts on its soil against the Israeli occupier and does not have any operations outside Palestine. The world must be able to make a clear distinction between us and Al-Qaeda."

#8  Only a [God/Faith-based] Leftie-Socialist would argue that his camp can attack and kill anyone anytime they want, but the other side can't - heck, the other side e.g. USA and 9-11, is not allowed to get angry and has to obey the "world community". Must be nice to have simple math that argues/proves only side has to compromise and tell the truth and be blamed for the repression of Muslims by Muslims. Poor President Kerry only has five mansions, etal. but its Washington whom "isn't giving enough".
Posted by: JosephMendiola   2006-03-10 21:54  

#7  "When Israel commits to pulling back to 1967 borders, including east Jerusalem, destroying the wall, dismantling the settlements, recognising refugees and displaced Palestinians' right to return, and frees all the prisoners, then Hamas will take serious measures toward peace,"...

Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?
Posted by: Xbalanke   2006-03-10 17:48  

#6  I'll take the Isrealis and lay the points.
Posted by: Thromomp Gluque9990   2006-03-10 15:54  

#5  Olmert responds to Hamas' Umpteenth Declaration of War
Posted by: doc   2006-03-10 14:22  

#4  Maybe it's like a Hamas-style "Revival" thingy. Must be hard to seethe 24x7 for years. S'okay, they'll have eternity to rest as things are going now.
Posted by: .com   2006-03-10 12:54  

#3  I thought Hamas was already in a state of war with Israel. So they are seething because somebody they've declared a state of war with has declared war back?
Posted by: Anonymoose   2006-03-10 12:51  

#2  so war it is. I know who I'm putting my money on.
Posted by: 2b   2006-03-10 12:47  

#1  The best thing about the Hamas win is that we don't have to pretend that they are a partner for peace.

Go ahead and declare War. The border issue will be settled right quick.
Posted by: danking_70   2006-03-10 12:47