Mahmoud Zahar, one of the founders of Hamas, told reporters(including one from the Jerusalem Post) that Israel is responsible for the current impasse about freeing an Israeli soldier held by his group. He idenitified the issue of how many Palestinian prisoners would be released in order to return Cpl. Gilad Schlit as a sore point in negotiations since he beieves Israel is playing games with the number of those who will be released from their side. Zahar was upset because he believes Palestinian groups had reached an agreement with Israel with both sides halting all military action against one another, a “hudna for peace, but “the Israelis are agan playing with us, (they) say they want to wait for a few months after the cease fire before opening the gates(of Gaza). Why wait?”
Zahar hoped the next American president would be “more neutral” and refused to respond to a question by a Jerusalem Post reporter as to his preference in the American election. “No, I will not fall for this trick. You are trying to play politics by getting me to say something good about Obama.” He thought Senator John McCain would win the presidential election because “the United States will not vote for a black man or a woman to be president.”
The Hamas leader believes Israel is suffering a moral and spiritual crisis which is sappping the determination of the nation to confront Hamas and other militant groups. He pointed to a declining immigration and the fact many Israelis hold two passports and will eventually leave for a safer climate. He mocked the idea of a two state solution asking “where are the borders? What about the refugees? I have to know the dimensions of everything. I don’t give answers until then. We don’t trust the prime minister or any Israeli, our way is not the Fatah way.”
Zahar’s rambling reflections offer both hope and doubt about a peace. There apparently is a possibility of attaining an immediate cease fire, but little hope of a far reaching long term solution at the moment. But, one step at a time might be the best approach for the Israel-Palestinian conflict.