Hamas’ leader in exile, Khaled Meshaal, said he would consider a truce with Israel.
The statement, which appeared Friday in the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al Hayat, is significant because Meshaal leads hard-line elements in Hamas. The terrorist movement took over the Gaza Strip last June and has resisted Egyptian attempts to broker a cease-fire with Israel.
Meshaal timed his statement for an Arab foreign ministers’ summit in Damascus. Meanwhile, leaders at a Hamas rally in Gaza held during the summit called on Arab nations meeting in Damascus to join in armed battle against the Jewish state.
U.S.-friendly Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, have come under U.S. pressure to help bring about an end to the rocket attacks on Israel’s south launched from Gaza.
Meshaal defended Hamas’ targeting of Israeli civilians but said he would consider an “overall” calming period that would include the West Bank. Israel has carried out frequent raids in the Fatah-dominated West Bank in pursuit of radical Islamic terrorists.