(IPS) RAMALLAH -- Hamas top official Abdal Aziz Al-Rantisi said Jan. 25 that the main Palestinian resistance group could declare a 10-year truce with Israel if the latter withdrew from territories occupied in 1967 and a Palestinian state was established.
"We propose a 10-year truce in return for [Israeli] withdrawal and the establishment of a [Palestinian] state," Rantisi told Reuters news agency in a telephone interview.
Rantisi further said Hamas accepts a "phased liberation" as it realized that it was "difficult to liberate all our land at this stage."
"We accept a state in the West Bank, including Al-Quds [occupied Jerusalem] and the Gaza Strip," he added.
Rantisi told Reuters that discussion within Hamas on accepting a state in just the West Bank and Gaza is not new, but that "the movement has taken a decision on this."
Rantisi, however, reaffirmed that the proposal would not mean that Hamas recognized Israel.
Hamas has been demanding that a Palestinian state be formed on all the land that was Palestine under the British mandate preceding the creation of Israel more than five decades ago.
Rantisi expected that Israel would not respond favorably to the new suggestion, "when it has rejected the Palestinian Authority's offer for less land than what we are proposing."
In June 2003, Rantisi survived a failed Israeli assassination attempt that claimed the lives of three Palestinians.
In December 2003, Hamas opposed an Egyptian-proposed one-year conditional truce with Israel, arguing that any truce should be preceded by U.S. and Israeli guarantees.
The spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, insisted that there would be no ceasefire with Israel under the occupation, saying the Palestinians had no option but to resist.
Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets of Gaza city on Jan. 17 to protest against Israeli army chief General Moshe Yaalon's threats to assassinate Yassin.
Hamas said Israel's threats only reinforced the group's determination to fight occupation.
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