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Hamas Official Says More Than 'Road Map' Needed to Bring Mideast Peace - 2003-08-25


A Hamas official says it will take more than the road map peace plan to bring an end to fighting between Israelis and Palestinians. VOA's Greg LaMotte spoke with a senior Hamas official in Lebanon who restated the group's position that efforts to achieve peace in the region, including the U.S. backed road map for peace, will not work until Israel completely withdraws from all occupied Palestinian territories.

Hamas, an organization on the U.S. State Department's list of terrorist groups, says the international peace proposal between the Israelis and Palestinians known as the road map is not a plan that will lead to peace, and does not get Hamas' support.

Hamas spokesman in Lebanon, Osama Abu Hemdan, told VOA that the road map does not offer a political solution. He says that while it addresses issues of security, it does not address the political process for achieving lasting peace. And, he says, the plan will never be implemented unless there is international pressure. "There is no real pressure applied on the road map. There is no pressure to do anything of the requirements of the peace process. So, I believe, if there is no change here or there, there would be no hope of bringing peace to the region," he said.

Osama el Baz is a political adviser to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. He agrees pressure must be applied on both sides to follow the road map. Speaking Sunday in Alexandria, Egypt, Mr. Baz said that if both sides were made to adhere to the plan, he believes a Palestinian state could be created within two-to-three years.

But according to Mr. Hemdan of Hamas, the only way lasting peace can be achieved is if Israel first pulls out of all Palestinian occupied territories. "We want to end the occupation of the Palestinian lands," he said. "To let the Palestinians establish their own state without any kind of control from the Israelis, without any kind of interference from the Israelis."

Mr. Hemdan says once the Palestinians have their own state then the issue of lasting peace can truly be negotiated because, he said, it will be between two separate and recognized governments.

Until then, Mr. Hemdan says, Hamas will continue to seek revenge for any act by Israel it considers to be hostile.

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