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Mashaal rejects land swap with Israel

May 2, 2013 9:42 A.M. (Updated: May 8, 2013 3:03 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Hamas politburo chief Khalid Mashaal on Thursday rejected an Arab League endorsement of land swaps between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Speaking with the Al Jazeera, Mashaal said any such concession would harm the Palestinian cause. The plan was announced on Monday after Arab League officials met with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Mashaal said the Kerry-backed plan was a bid to find economic peace between Arab states and Israel by integrating it into the region.

The Hamas leader said the movement was prepared to use all available options to liberate the Palestinian territories and that it was his goal to do so over the next four years. He further pledge greater efforts to release Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.

Kerry met with Arab League officials to discuss the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, whereby 22 Arab states would agree to normalizing ties with Israel in a return from territory it occupied in 1967.

Israel's lead peace negotiator Tzipi Livni Tuesday praised as "important" a concession.

Hamas keen on implementing unity deal

Mashaal also said Hamas was prepared to implement a unity deal with rival faction Fatah, whose movement currently dominates the Palestinian Authority. The unity deal, he said, should be based on partnership and the holding of elections.

He denied any involvement in Egyptian security issues and said Egypt recognised Hamas as a legitimate entity.

His comments follow reports that President Mahmoud Abbas will head to Cairo in May to advance the unity deal.

Egypt is expected to push for a Palestinian unity government after the meeting as well as a date for elections.

Meanwhile, Fatah leader Faisal Abu Shahla told Ma'an that there were no plans for meetings between Fatah and Hamas.

Fatah and Hamas signed an agreement in Cairo in 2011, pledging to set up a caretaker government of independents to pave the way for parliamentary and presidential elections within 12 months, but its implementation stalled over the government's make-up.

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