Hamas says accepts Palestinian statehood
Hamas accepts the establishment of a Palestinian state on land occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war but would not recognise the Jewish state, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said on Monday.
Commenting on efforts by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to persuade Hamas to back peace talks between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israel, Meshaal said his Islamist group would "respect Palestinian national will even if it was against our convictions".
But Meshaal told reporters in Damascus that Hamas had informed Carter it could not declare a unilateral ceasefire with Israel as the former U.S. president had requested in meetings in the Syrian capital because similar moves in the past failed to stop what Hamas describes as Israeli aggression. Meshaal's remarks appeared in line with comments made by Carter in Jerusalem on Monday following his talks with the Hamas leader on Friday.
Carter said Meshaal told him that Hamas would accept a peace deal creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel if it was approved by Palestinians in a referendum. "They said they would accept a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders ... and that they would accept the right of Israel to live as a neighbour next door in peace", provided Palestinians passed such a deal in a referendum, Carter said in the speech.