On anniversary of Shalit swap, Ismail Haniyeh calls for Palestinian unity; says Israel is leveraging negotiations to better its international standing and cover continued settlement construction.
Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh called on Saturday for the end to the divisions in Palestinian society in order to better confront the dangers of negotiations with Israel and any resulting agreement.
Speaking at an event marking two years since the prisoner swap in which 1,027 Palestinians were released from Israeli prisons in exchange for kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, Haniyeh said that all Palestinian factions and officials should unite and formulate a national strategy that adopts all possible options, including “armed struggle, popular uprising and political, diplomatic and media battles.”
Haniyeh said the peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel is a process void of substance that is taking place under U.S. pressure, and that Israel is leveraging the negotiations to better its international standing and cover its continued settlement construction.
Haniyeh added that Palestinians should end their rifts in accordance with agreements reached in the past in Cairo, and said Hamas is prepared to take the necessary steps to help establish unity. “Let’s have one government, one parliament and one president,” Haniyeh said.
Haniyeh also denied claims that Hamas is involved in military operations in the Sinai Peninsula, saying the accusations were designed to hurt the organization. “We have not intervened in internal Egyptian affairs, neither in Sinai nor anywhere else in Egypt,” Haniyeh said.
Ahmed Assaf, a Fatah spokesman, said Haniyeh’s speech “included nothing new, neither a clear plan nor a certain timetable”.
Pressured by the deterioration of ties with former regional backers Syria, Hezbollah and Iran, together with the fall of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and the ensuing Egyptian crackdown on Palestinian tunnels used to smuggle arms and commercial goods into Gaza, Hamas is in steep financial decline.