Former US President Jimmy Carter has said that Hamas is prepared to accept the right of Israel to “live as a neighbour next door in peace”.
After meeting Hamas leaders last week in Syria, he said it was a problem the US and Israel would not meet the group.
His comments came as the Israeli army launched a formal investigation into the death of a Reuters cameraman killed in the Gaza Strip last week.
And two Palestinians died in Israeli air strikes in the territory.
Monday’s strikes killed one Palestinian in the southern city of Rafah and a Hamas militant at Beit Hanoun, a border town from where rockets are often fired at Israel.
Mr Carter, speaking in Jerusalem, said Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking had “regressed” since the US hosted Middle East talks in November at Annapolis.
Hamas indicated to us at least – I’m not guaranteeing their commitment – that if Israel is willing to have a mutual ceasefire and a renunciation of violence in Gaza and in the West Bank, they will accept it
The former US president was criticised by the US and Israel for visiting the Syrian capital Damascus last week to meet exiled Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal.
But he defended his visit on Monday, telling Israel’s Council on Foreign Relations: “The problem is not that I met with Hamas in Syria. The problem is that Israel and the United States refuse to meet with someone who must be involved.”
Mr Carter said Hamas had reiterated its position that it would accept an Israeli state within its pre-1967 borders, living in peace with Israel, if such an agreement was approved by Palestinians.