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Hamas Official Expresses Willingness to Disarm in the Event of Two-State Solution

In a surprising turn of events, a top Hamas political official has expressed the group’s willingness to disarm if a two-state solution is achieved between Israel and Palestine. Khalil al-Hayya, who has represented Hamas in negotiations, stated that the militant group is prepared to agree to a truce of five years or more with Israel and convert into a political party if an independent Palestinian state is established along pre-1967 borders.

This announcement comes amidst a stalemate in cease-fire talks that have been ongoing for several months. The suggestion that Hamas would be willing to disarm is a significant concession from a group that has long been committed to the destruction of Israel. However, it is unlikely that Israel would consider such a scenario as its current leadership vehemently opposes the creation of a Palestinian state on lands captured in the 1967 Mideast war.

Al-Hayya’s statements reflect a mix of defiance and conciliation. He mentioned that Hamas wants to join the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to form a unified government for Gaza and the West Bank. Furthermore, he stated that Hamas would accept a fully sovereign Palestinian state within the West Bank and Gaza Strip, along with the return of Palestinian refugees in accordance with international resolutions. If these conditions are met, he claimed that the group’s military wing would dissolve.

While Hamas has occasionally moderated its public position on the possibility of a two-state solution, its political program officially rejects any alternative to the full liberation of Palestine. Al-Hayya did not clarify whether his embrace of a two-state solution would signify an end to the conflict or merely an interim step toward Hamas’ goal of destroying Israel.

There has been no immediate reaction from Israel or the Palestinian Authority, the internationally recognized self-ruled government that Hamas ousted from Gaza in 2007. The Palestinian Authority aims to establish an independent state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem, and Gaza, areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. While the international community overwhelmingly supports a two-state solution, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-line government rejects it.

The ongoing war in Gaza, which has lasted for almost seven months, has led to a breakdown in cease-fire negotiations. The conflict began with an attack by Hamas-led militants on southern Israel, resulting in the death of approximately 1,200 people, mostly civilians. Israel responded with a bombardment and ground offensive in Gaza, leading to the deaths of over 34,000 Palestinians and the displacement of 80% of Gaza’s population. Israel is now preparing for an offensive in the city of Rafah, where more than 1 million Palestinians have sought refuge.

Al-Hayya argued that an offensive in Rafah would not succeed in destroying Hamas, as the group’s political and military leadership maintains uninterrupted communication and makes decisions jointly. He claimed that Israeli forces have only destroyed 20% of Hamas’ capabilities and questioned the solution if they cannot eliminate the group entirely.

Cease-fire talks and negotiations for the release of remaining hostages are currently frozen, with each side blaming the other for the lack of progress. The role of mediator, previously held by Qatar, is being reassessed. Most of Hamas’ top political officials have recently left Qatar for Turkey, where Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Despite Israeli and U.S. officials accusing Hamas of not being serious about a deal, Al-Hayya denied this claim and stated that Hamas has made concessions regarding the number of Palestinian prisoners it wants released. However, he emphasized that Hamas will not back down from its demands for a permanent cease-fire and full withdrawal of Israeli troops.

Israel has stated that it will continue military operations until Hamas is definitively defeated and will maintain a security presence in Gaza. In response, Al-Hayya implicitly threatened to attack any foreign military presence near Gaza, including the floating pier that the U.S. plans to build to deliver aid by sea.

Al-Hayya concluded by saying that Hamas does not regret the Oct. 7 attacks, despite the destruction it caused in Gaza. He denied that Hamas militants targeted civilians during the attacks and believed that the operation succeeded in bringing attention to the Palestinian issue. He also asserted that Israeli attempts to eradicate Hamas would not prevent future Palestinian armed uprisings, questioning whether the Palestinian people would cease to exist even if Hamas were destroyed.

Overall, Al-Hayya’s statements reveal a potential willingness on the part of Hamas to negotiate and disarm under certain conditions. However, it remains to be seen whether Israel will consider these concessions and whether a two-state solution will be achieved. The ongoing conflict in Gaza continues to pose significant challenges to peace in the region.

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