US dismisses Hamas offer on Palestinian state
( dpa ) - The United States dismissed an offer by Hamas on Monday that would accept a Palestinian state on pre-1967 borders, saying the proposals fall short of the demands of the international community.
"Nothing has changed in terms of Hamas' basic views about Israel and about peace in the region," State Department spokesman Tom Casey said.
Hamas has still not complied with demands of the mediating group known as the Quartet - which consists of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and United States - to renounce violence, recognize Israel's right to exist and accept previous peace agreements.
"The bottom line is Hamas still believes in the destruction of the state of Israel, they don't believe Israel has a right to exist," Casey said.
The leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal, announced in Damascus earlier Monday that he would accept a Palestinian state neighbouring Israel if the Jewish state returned land seized in the 1967 war, but stop short of recognizing Israel.
Mashaal's visit came after a meeting Friday with former president Jimmy Carter, who defied the White House by meeting with the leader of the militant group listed by the United States as a terrorist organization.
Carter insisted on meeting with Hamas despite US objections, arguing peace is not possible unless Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, was involved.
Prior to Mashaal's announcement, Carter said in Jerusalem that he was told by Mashaal and other Hamas leaders that the organization would be willing to accept a peace with Israel under negotiations led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, but only if the deal was approved by Palestinians in a referendum.
Hamas has previously rejected peace with Israel and advocates the Jewish state be replaced with all of historic Palestine.