In a special interview with Wednesday's edition of the paper, Meshal said the Palestinian position had received a vote of consensus during the national accords of 2006 and that this position is considered acceptable to the Arab world at large.
Meshal was asked about the claims by Israel and the United States that Hamas is seeking to destroy Israel. He said Hamas has committed itself to a political plan, which it follows, and called on the Americans, the Europeans and other international entities to conduct themselves in accordance with this political truth, and to judge Hamas based on its political plan, not based on what people may imagine.
Meshal was also asked about Israel's claims that he is no longer in charge of Hamas and that he lost control to Ahmed al-Ja'abari, the head of the group's military wing in the Gaza Strip. Meshal responded by saying Israel's views are like the stock market: sometimes Khaled Meshal is responsible for Hamas and sometimes he has lost control.
"I laugh, since they do not know Hamas or its decision-making processes," he said.
The Hamas leader also said there had been several Israeli attempts to contact him, but he turned them down.
He explained in the interview that Hamas is interested in a tahadiyeh, a complete cease-fire in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but that Israel is willing to agree to such a deal only in the Strip. He said secret contacts are underway with the Europeans, but that the Americans are applying pressure in an effort to keep these contacts from broadening.
Regarding the prisoner exchange deal for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Meshal said that it is not linked to the tahadiyeh but that negotiations are not progressing at this point. He said the Egyptians are still mediating, but that some Europeans are contributing as well, and the Egyptians know about it.
Meshal said Israel continues to refuse to release prisoners who have been sentenced to life terms, even though it changed its criteria for releasing prisoners.
Two months ago, Meshal said, an agreement was reached with Egypt for the initial release of some 350 prisoners in exchange for the transfer of Gilad Shalit to the Egyptians; then, 100 more prisoners would be released, when Shalit reached Israel. During the second stage of the deal, another 550 prisoners would be released.
Meshal said he was surprised that Israel rejected most of the names on the Hamas list of prisoners, and confirmed that Hamas had included Marwan Barghouti on its list.