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Hamas and Israel

Khaled Meshal, a leader of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, says that Israel should free Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Corporal Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier whom Hamas kidnapped two week ago. From his safe haven in Syria, Mr. Meshal says this is what the Palestinians want.

U.S State Department spokesman Sean McCormack questions how Khaled Meshal "knows exactly what the Palestinian people want":

"It might be easy for him to dictate from Damascus and to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people, but it is really the Palestinian people themselves who suffer as a result of the fact that Khaled Meshal and Hamas are now head of the Palestinian Authority that is not a negotiating partner for the Israeli government or the rest of the world."

Hamas, says Mr. McCormack, is "not interested in turning away from terror":

"They're not interested in recognizing Israeli's right to exist. So it is really Khaled Meshal and the Hamas-led government that is standing in the way of a better way of life for the Palestinian people. So, you know, it's easy for him to sit up in Damascus and make pronouncements, but he and his organization are the ones who are standing in the way of a better way of life and a better future for the Palestian people."

In response to the capture of one of its soldiers, Israel has sent troops into Gaza to search for him. Mr. McCormack says the kidnapping of Corporal Shalit is "the root cause of the current situation."

"We're working towards -- and the states in the region are working towards – gaining his release. Israel. . . .certainly has the right to defend itself. We have called upon Israel to avoid any civilian casualties that it possibly can in its activities."

The Palestinian Authority has "certain internationally recognized responsibilities to stop terror and to dismantle terrorist networks," says State department spokesman Sean McCormack. The U.S. "call[s] upon them to do so."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.