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Hamas Leader says Israeli Settlement Proposal "Dangerous"


Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal warns against Israel's proposal to temporarily halt settlement construction in exchange for normal relations with Arab countries. Khalid Mashaal visited Cairo to discuss the release of an Israeli soldier captured in 2006, but he says the deal still has a long way to go.

"Dangerous" is what Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal called Israel's proposal to temporarily halt settlement construction in exchange for improved relations with Arab countries.

At a news conference in Cairo, Mashaal said he views this proposal as an attempt to avoid American demands.

U.S. demands include a full settlement freeze from Israel. Mashaal welcomes Obama administration's efforts to halt construction, but says he awaits further concrete peace process actions. "There has been a consensus on the necessity of moving forward with the option of reconciliation as the only path available. No presidential and legislative elections can be held except within a context of agreement and reconciliation and the rejection of any suggestions for holding de facto elections, which would, in actual fact lead to the exclusion of Gaza and confine elections to the West Bank," he said.

Mashaal's visit was primarily intended to discuss an Israel-Hamas prisoner swap deal. In exchange for the release of captured Israel soldier Gilad Schalit, Hamas demands the release of hundreds of Palestinian captives in Israel.

According to Mashaal, the deal is developing with German mediation, but he says there is still a long way to go.

Mashaal appeared with Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, who supported the Hamas leader's stance against Israel's settlement proposal. "There have been no such decisions in the sense of decisions for 'free normalization' and I do not think there is any Arab government prepared to offer on a silver platter normalization with Israel, which does not want to make a move, even on the issue of settlements," he said.

An issue he says he is now awaiting America's reaction.

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