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Monday, November 27, 2006

Meshal abandons six-month deadline for Palestinian state

Last update - 02:01 27/11/2006

Meshal abandons six-month deadline for Palestinian state
By The Associated Press

Hamas chief Khaled Meshal during a television interview aired Sunday backed
away from a six month deadline he set the day before for achieving a
Palestinian state or else the militant group would launch a newuprising
against Israel. But he warned if negotiations were neglected, Palestinians
would "carry on their struggle."

Meshal, who spoke during a taped telephone call-in show on a state-run
Egyptian television station, said Hamas would be willing to give negotiations
eight months or a year. He was responding to a question from Nabil Shaath, the
Palestinian Information Minister and member of the more moderate Fatah Party,
who said it was not logical for Palestinians to be talking about an uprising.

"I said six months, but do you want more than six months? Maybe we can take
eight months or a year," Meshal said. But he warned "if the door is sealed and
the horizon is closed [for creating a Palestinian state] then we have to look
for another choice. We will impose our will on the Zionist enemy and the
international community."

"The most important thing is that the Palestinian people will not give up
their right. They will not surrender and will carry on their struggle," he
said during the taped program air on Israel's Channel 1 television.

The exiled Hamas political leader headed back to Syria Monday night after
spending several days in Cairo holding talks with Egyptian officials.

Meshal on Saturday had said Hamas was willing to allow negotiations with
Israel but warned of a new uprising if talks failed to reach a deal for a
Palestinian state within six months. It was the strongest confirmation by
Meshal that the militant group was willing to give Palestinian President
Mahmoud Abbas, of Hamas' rival Fatah, the chance to try to negotiate with
Israel, but it also was the first time he set a deadline with a specific
threat of a new uprising.

Mashaal's remarks come as a fledging cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian
factions took effect early Sunday. Rocket fired from Gaza had died down after
the cease-fire began at day break, raising hopes for an end to five months of
violence and a new opening toward peace talks.

The two main parts of the Palestinian government, Hamas and Fatah, publicly
backed the truce, and Palestinian officials said Meshal played a role in
speeding up the agreement.

Meshal did not mention the cease-fire during the interview but it was unclear
when the program was taped.

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