June 27, 2006

Hamas 'implicitly accepts Israel'

Palestinian militant group Hamas has agreed to a document backing a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel, officials say.

The initiative, devised by prisoners held in Israeli jails, implicitly recognises the Jewish state.

Hamas's charter currently calls for Israel's destruction by force and rules out peace negotiations with it.

The deal comes amid heightened tension with Israel following the capture of an Israeli soldier by militants on Sunday.

Officials said the agreement would be unveiled later on Tuesday by Prime Minister Ismail Haniya of Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas, of the rival Fatah faction.

"We agreed on all the points of the prisoners' initiative," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in quotes carried by AFP news agency.

Mr Abbas had proposed holding a referendum on the plan unless Hamas accepted it.

The two factions have been locked in an intense power struggle since Hamas gained control of the Palestinian parliament in elections in January.


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