Hamas official suggests 'two-state' solution
Foreign minister wants dialogue
Mahmoud Zahar charged that Israel is continuing "illegal colonial policies."
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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The new Hamas-led Palestinian government is prepared to engage in "serious and constructive dialogue" to reach a "just and comprehensive solution" of its differences with Israel, the new Palestinian foreign minister said Tuesday.
In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Mahmoud Zahar even mentioned the possibility of a "two-state" solution in which Palestinians have "freedom and independence side by side with our neighbors" -- despite Hamas' long-standing vow to eradicate Israel.
In his letter, Zahar had harsh words for Israel. He claimed that Israel is continuing "illegal colonial policies" and using "excessive military force."
"Israel is undertaking all these illegal measures as the world watches and listens," Zahar told Annan. "Israel continues to commit these grave violations of international law ... without any concern, acting as if it is a state above the law."
Zahar also said that the Palestinian Authority is hoping that nations threatening to withhold aid from the Palestinian Authority because of Hamas' leadership will reconsider "their positions and their hasty decisions."
"We expect the international community to respect the democratic choice of the Palestinian people and to work with this new Cabinet in order to enhance this democratic course and to protect political pluralism through the achievement of peace and stability in the region," he said.
The United States, Israel and the European Union regard Hamas as a terrorist group, and the United states and Canada have formally cut ties with the new government.
Annan said in January that the international community is willing to provide crucial aid to Palestinians if the new government commits to non-violence, recognizes Israel's right to exist and accepts current Mideast peace agreements. (Full story)
In Paris, the French Foreign Ministry on Monday denied having established any type of contact with Hamas, confirming a similar statement made by the French ambassador in Tel Aviv.
A Hamas spokesman had said Hamas leaders met with French officials two months ago.
Hamas assumed control of the Palestinian government on March 30 after an election win in January over the long-ruling Fatah movement.
Also on Tuesday, Israeli aircraft bombed open areas in northern Gaza and "an open urban space" near Gaza City, Israeli military sources said, in response to Palestinian rockets fired into Israel.
Palestinian security sources said one Palestinian was killed and four were wounded, two critically, in the air strikes.
The Israeli sources said some of the areas targeted are used by militants to fire Qassam rockets into Israel. Earlier Tuesday morning, militants fired four Qassam rockets that landed in Israel north of Gaza.
On Monday, Palestinian security sources said Israeli soldiers shot and killed a 16-year-old Palestinian during a military operation in a refugee camp near Ramallah. They said three other Palestinians were wounded.
Israeli military sources said no troops entered the camp. Instead, the military said, soldiers saw a number of Palestinians trying to breach a fence. The sources said the Palestinians began throwing rocks at the Israeli soldiers, who responded with gunfire.
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