Statement of Hon. Jimmy Carter after his visit to the Middle East

The following points represent the positions of Hamas as communicated to me by its leaders from Gaza, the West Bank, and Damascus, on a number of key issues:

1. **Unilateral Ceasefire and Border Crossings.  Despite the recent tragic violence in Gaza, and the threats of retaliation by both Hamas and the Israeli government, Hamas will begin a unilateral ceasefire on Tuesday, April 22nd, at 12:01am for a period of at least 30 days. During this time, Hamas will ensure that no missiles, projectiles, or rockets will be fired from Gaza at Sderot, Ashkelon, or anywhere in Israel, and Gaza will not be used for any other aggressive actions or suicide bombings in or against Israel. Hamas has agreed to take these steps in the expectation that Israel will reciprocate by refraining from any military attacks in Gaza, and that this initiative will lead to an agreement as soon as possible for the opening of all border crossings. On behalf of the Carter Center delegation, and all those in Israel and the Palestinian territories who have expressed their hope that Israel will use this period to refrain from any military actions against or in Gaza, and that both Israel and Hamas will use the good offices of Egypt to negotiate an extension of the ceasefire to an entire year or longer to create the best possible climate for peace negotiations.

2. **Exchange of Prisoners.  To further contribute to creating a climate for successful negotiations for peace, and consistent with a prior understanding between Israel and the Palestinians that in exchange for the release of Gilad Shalit, Israel would release a 1 000 prisoners, Hamas agrees to transfer Gilad Shalit to Egyptian authorities under house confinement with the right to family visits at the moment in which the government of Israel releases 71 prisoners that they have already confirmed they intend to release, plus 110 women, 350 children, who are now under the age of 18; 41 members of the Palestine Legislative Council and 10 Ministers. When Israel and Palestinian leaders agree on the remaining 418 prisoners, and they are released, Shalit will simultaneously be permitted to return home. In the meantime, Hamas agrees to permit the sending of a letter through the Carter Center from Gilad Shalit to his parents within the next week.

3. Referendum.  If President Abbas succeeds in negotiating a final status agreement with Israel, Hamas will accept the agreement if it is approved by the Palestinian people in a referendum monitored by international observers, including those from the Carter Center, or by a newly elected Palestine National Council, even if Hamas were opposed to the agreement. In order to ensure that the referendum can be debated and the choice by voters truly reflects the will of the Palestinian people, reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas will be necessary.

4. Rafah Crossing.  To alleviate the suffering by the people of Gaza, it is very important to lift the siege. To that end, Hamas agreed to the opening of the border crossing at Rafah, which would be controlled by Palestinian Authority and Hamas officials as well as those from Egypt and the European Union. Final decisions on closure of the crossing would be made by Egyptian officials. I hope that Israel will use the period of calm to agree to these procedures and allow the freer movement of goods and people.

5. **National Reconciliation.  Hamas is prepared to negotiate an agreement with President Abbas to create a government of national consensus, which would have authority over both the West Bank and Gaza. Hamas supports a unified professional security force for the West Bank and Gaza. A dialogue among all parties is needed to discuss the details of creating such a force. I have personally suggested that one option worthy of consideration would be a Cabinet composed of technocrats belonging to neither Fatah nor Hamas, though approved for both, which would govern at least until the schedule elections in 2010.

6. During the course of my conversations with the leadership of Hamas, they expressed their greatest concern with the terrible suffering felt by the people of Gaza. They reiterated that the fulfillment of their national right of self-determination and the establishment of a sovereign Palestine state within the 1967 borders as affirmed by them in the National Reconciliation Document would create the basis for true peace.

Remarks and observations on the proposed statement of Hon. Jimmy Carter

We highly appreciate the courageous step taken by Honorary President Carter to move about in the region to meet all pertinent parties, worth to mention his meeting with the leadership of the Hamas movement, we express our goodwill for the held meetings with President Carter which were in a warm environment of transparency and clearness that prevailed through the course of the discussions, and after we confer in deep concern the way of formulation to  the proposed statement, let us brief  you about our remarks and observations, as follows:

Firstly;

A-    In regard to the first point; Unilateral Ceasefire and Border Crossings; in the light of the last meetings of our delegation with the Egyptian’s leadership, we advanced positively at the level of accomplishing an agreement on the issue of reciprocal cease fire, we in the leadership of the movement dealt with the Egyptian efforts sincerely and positively to reach the said recommendation at this issue and his keen interest to conclude a cease fire agreement.

B-    In regard to the second point; Exchange of Prisoners;  due to the sensitivity and high importance of the issue of prisoners to our people, we still believe that we have to continue the negotiation on the swap deal from the point it reached and build on it forward.

C-    In response to the offer carried by President Carter from (Eli Yishai), the leadership of the movement; out of high respect to President Carter and our concern to accomplish the deal of the prisoners exchange in as soon as possible, and to further what ever been achieved yet; we express the readiness of the movement for indirect negotiation with Eli Yishai on the issue of the prisoners’ deal through the Egyptian mediator. (As agreed earlier this point is to be conveyed to Yishai in person and not to be included in the statement).

D-    Mr. Khaled Mesh’aal; the President of the Political Bureau; affirms his response to the request of President Carter during their meeting in Damascus; to convey a letter from the captured soldier Gilad Shalit to his parents; via Carter Centre as it was proposed.

Secondly;

Attached with the modified text of the remaining points (i.e. 3, 4, 5 &6), including our remarks and modifications as we pledged:

3. Referendum. If President Abbas succeeds in negotiating a final status agreement with Israel, Hamas will accept the decision made by Palestinian people and their will through a referendum monitored by international observers, including those from the Carter Centre, or by a newly elected Palestine National Council by mechanism agreed upon nationally, even if Hamas were opposed to the agreement. In order to ensure that the referendum can be debated and the choice by the voters truly reflects the will of the Palestinian people, a national reconciliation and in particular between Fatah and Hamas will be necessary.

4. Rafah Crossing. To alleviate the suffering by the people of Gaza, it is very important to lift the siege; and that is what was demanded by Hamas and the Palestinian people. To that end, Hamas is prepared to cooperate in the opening and running of the border crossing at Rafah, which would be controlled by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas officials as well as those from Egypt and the European Union. Final decisions on running the crossing would be made by the Egyptian officials. I hope that Israel will use the period of calm to agree to these procedures and allow the freer movement of goods and people.

5. National Reconciliation. Hamas is prepared to negotiate an agreement with President Abbas to create a government of national consensus, which would have authority over both the West Bank and Gaza. Hamas supports a unified professional security force for West Bank and Gaza. A dialogue among all forces and factions is needed to discuss the details of creating such a force. I  have personally suggested that one option worthy of consideration would be a Cabinet composed of technocrats belonging to neither Fatah nor Hamas, though approved by both, which would govern at least until the schedule elections in 2010.

6. During the course of my conversations with the leadership of Hamas, they expressed their greatest concern with the terrible suffering; due to the occupation atrocities and siege; felt by the Palestinian people. They reiterated that the fulfilment of their national right of self-determination and the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 borders as affirmed by them in the National Reconciliation Document would create the basis for true peace.

MRN

Author: MRN Network

The aspiration of the Media Review Network is to dispel the myths and stereotypes about Islam and Muslims and to foster bridges of understanding among the diverse people of our country. The Media Review Network believes that Muslim perspectives on issues impacting on South Africans are a prerequisite to a better appreciation of Islam.