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Mash'al: Hamas open to a truce, but prepared for escalation

April 27, 2008 9:51 A.M. (Updated: April 27, 2008 9:51 A.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Exiled Hamas political leader Khalid Mash'al says that Hamas is open to a tactical truce with Israel, but is prepared to escalate violent attacks if Irael rejects an offer for a ceasefire.

Mash'al made these comments during an interview with Al-Jazeera television after a day of meetings with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who has been mediating between Hamas and Israel.

Mash'al said that his movement is still waiting on Egypt's official stance on the issue of a six-month ceasefire.

He said: "It is normal for any resistance that operates in its people's interest ... to sometimes escalate, other times retreat a bit... The battle is to be run this way and Hamas is known for that."

"In 2003, there was a ceasefire and then the operations were resumed."

"We are ready to cooperate seriously from a place of power," he added, warning, "If Israel does not accept, then we welcome confrontation."

Mash'al demanded that Israel lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip, saying, "If the blockade is not to be lifted from Gaza, then the Gaza Strip will explode."

The Hamas leader also said he is ready to hold reconciliation talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, also the leader of the rival Fatah movement.

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