Two Hamas leaders in the territories this week said they would welcome a possible dialogue with Israel, but Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin rejected the possibility.
The statement came from Sheikh Jamil Hamami, of eastern Jerusalem, and Sheikh Hussein Abu Kwaik, from the West Bank town of Ramallah, who were responding to a previous statement by Police Minister Moshe Shahal.
While Shahal advocated that Israel should continue to “fight aggressively those with whom there is no chance or hope of reaching any understanding,” he said that dialogue might be one form of combating violent attacks by Islamic activists against Israelis.
Kwaik told the Arabic Al-Quds newspaper that the opening of any talks with Israel would be contingent on the release of Hamas prisoners, including the movement’s spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
Hamami, citing the same preconditions, reportedly spoke of internationally supervised talks.
Hamas, which opposes Israel’s accord with the Palestine Liberation Organization, claimed responsibility for three attacks on Israelis in October – the Oct. 9 shooting spree in Jerusalem that left two dead; the Oct. 14 murder of kidnapped Israeli soldier Nachshon Waxman; and the Oct. 19 Tel Aviv suicide bus bombing in which 23 people, including the perpetrator, were killed.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin categorically rejected any dialogue with Hamas.
He told Israel Radio that Hamas is the enemy of peace and that the only way to battle Hamas is through a total war aimed at achieving the movement’s utter destruction.