Egypt: Hamas ready to recognize Israel

Jan. 29, 2007 at 12:34 PM

CAIRO, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Egypt's top political adviser to the president says the Palestinian Hamas movement is ready to recognize Israel if the latter talks with the group.

The semi-official Egyptian Middle East News Agency quoted Osama al-Baz Monday as saying when the international Quartet peace committee demanded that Hamas recognize Israel, Hamas asked, "How can we recognize Israel when it refuses to sit with us on the negotiating table and when they refuse to recognize us?"

Al-Baz, President Hosni Mubarak's political adviser, said Hamas officials, whom he did not identify by name, have told him they are ready to think of recognizing the Jewish state if and when they sit at the same table.

Hamas, which won power when it swept the January 2006 elections, has refused to explicitly recognize the state of Israel, one of three conditions set by the West to release badly-needed economic aid to the Palestinian territories.

The West is also demanding the Hamas government recognize previously signed Palestinian-Israeli interim peace agreements and renounce violence.

Egypt has been involved in trying to resolve deep differences and fighting between Hamas and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement to form a new national unity government that could ultimately lift the crippling sanctions against the Palestinians.

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