Hamas calls on West to end boycott

June 20th, 2008 - 1:37 am ICT by IANS  

Gaza City, June 19 (DPA) A fragile truce took hold in the Gaza Strip Thursday, ending months of deadly violence and prompting Hamas to call for an end to the Western boycott against it. The truce - the result of months of indirect, Egyptian-led negotiations between Israel and the radical Islamic movement ruling Gaza - took effect at 6 a.m. (0300 GMT) Thursday.

Although Israel negotiated the truce with Hamas indirectly, internal Israeli critics have charged the deal grants legitimacy to the radical Islamic movement and recognition of it as the de-facto ruler of the Strip.

Hamas too called on Western leaders “to change their attitude” toward the movement after it committed to the truce.

“We call on the international community to reconsider its decision to impose an embargo on the movement,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told reporters in Gaza City.

European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Javier Solana said it was too early to say whether EU could begin holding direct talks with Hamas, which the bloc considers a terrorist organisation.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Hamas was still a “terrorist organisation”, with which Israel did not and would not hold direct negotiations.

Olmert was scheduled to travel to Egypt Tuesday for talks with Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak on the truce brokered by Cairo.

The first stage of the three-phase, six-month truce entails a mutual end of hostilities.

According to Hamas officials, Israel is to lift severe restrictions on the entry of fuel into the Strip already in the first hours of the truce.

One week after, Cairo is to invite Hamas, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and EU representatives for talks on a mechanism to open the Rafah border crossing between southern Gaza and Egypt.

Western countries imposed a boycott on Hamas after it won the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, but refused calls to renounce violence.

Europe and the US have instead dealt only with Abbas of the rival Fatah party, who was elected in separate presidential elections a year earlier on a platform that did support a two-state solution.

After a short-lived unity government with Fatah, Hamas seized sole control of the Gaza Strip one year ago, by ousting security forces loyal to Abbas and Fatah.

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