Abbas says Hamas may recognise Jewish state

PETRA — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday said there were “indications” that Hamas may recognise the two-state solution adopted in the roadmap to the Mideast peace.

“Hamas could accept the plan through dialogue,” Abbas told Nobel Peace laureate Elie Wiesel during a chat attended by around 25 Nobel Prize laureates, including Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres.

Abbas, who was expected today to have an informal encounter with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at a breakfast to be hosted by King Abdullah, did not elaborate.

Officials from Hamas and Fateh yesterday said “significant progress” was made during the Palestinian factional dialogue to reach an agreement on the so-called Prisoners’ Document.

The document implicitly recognises Israel’s right to exist by calling for a Palestinian state on land occupied in 1967, an end to attacks in Israel and a national unity government.

Abbas said the international community should accept Hamas, “just like they accepted Fateh and the PLO, which was considered before 1993 a terrorist organisation.”

He said he would work out an “eternal” peace treaty with Israel in return for full withdrawal from Palestinian territories Israel seized in 1967 war.

“What we are asking for is withdrawal from Palestinian land occupied in 1967, which constitute only 22 per cent of historical Palestine, then there will be an eternal peace treaty,” Abbas said.

Abbas stressed that East Jerusalem must be part of the deal.

“Honourable Jerusalem belongs to us, and as for coexistence, the place will be open for all religions in order for people to visit their holy sites,” said the Palestinian president, who shook hands with Peres after a 40-minute session.

Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, said Israel could go ahead with its unilateral plan, but warned that this would not end the conflict.

“We want Middle East free of violence. When violence stops, peace will prevail, not only in the Middle East, but in the entire world,” he said.

“I urge the Palestinians and Israelis to stop violence, so we can go back to the negotiations,” he said, renewing his commitment to the roadmap.

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