The Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who just hours earlier declared “war on Gaza”, refused to acknowledge an offer for peace made by the deposed Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyya.
Haniyya conveyed the message through the Israeli media, claiming that he had both the will and ability to stop the Palestinian resistance groups from firing homemade shells across the Gaza border into Israel, but only if Israeli forces would stop their daily bombing of the Gaza Strip, and end the blockade that has kept the Palestinian population of Gaza imprisoned there since June.
Sleman al-Shafhe, the reporter who conveyed the offer through Israel’s Channel Two television, said that Haniyya told him he would have “no problem” with negotiating the terms of a truce with Israel.
Hamas attempted a truce last year, and was able to get all Palestinian resistance factions to stop their homemade shells, but Israeli forces did not cease their attacks on the Gaza Strip, and the truce was called off.
Though the Israeli Prime Minister refused to respond to the offer, his spokesman Mark Regev stated that “Our partner for dialogue is the legitimate Palestinian government,” referring to the appointed government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas – a rival to Hamas.
Hamas was democratically elected by the Palestinian people in January 2006, but the Israeli government has refused to recognize the Hamas government, choosing instead to recognize the un-elected appointees of Abbas.