Palestinian PM Ismail Haniyeh and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal are meeting in Damascus today with Syrian President Bashar Assad. Several hours ago, Haniyeh said that in all the time he has served as prime minister, he has never acted against Palestinian armed groups or prevented them from carrying out operations, and that his government did not condemn the resistance but embraced it.
Haniyeh emphasized that the Palestinian people would not give up a single grain of the land of Palestine, nor would it relinquish the right of return for Palestinian refugees. He added that Syrian President Bashar Assad had promised him that all Palestinian prisoners would be released from Israeli jails.
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal added that that the hudna, like violence, was a Palestinian tactic in the conflict with Israel. Even the establishment of a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank will not move Hamas to recognize Israel, as Palestinian lands would still remain "occupied," Mashaal told the Lebanese newspaper Al Safir.
Meanwhile, MediaLine reports that the Israeli media is rife with speculation that the Haniyeh - Meshaal meeting signals that an agreement to return kidnapped soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit to Israel in return for more than a thousand Palestinians is near. A staged release is expected with Palestinian women and children to be set free before Shalit is returned. The final stage will see hundreds of Palestinian men, many serving long terms for terrorist acts, released.