In his first speech at the new Head of the Hamas politburo, Ismail Haniyeh stressed that the Palestinian right of return, the liberation of Palestinian lands and holy sites, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital were non-negotiable rights.
Formerly the deputy head of Hamas’ politburo, Haniyeh was elected to replace Khalid Meshaal in the highest position in the Hamas movement in May.
Haniyeh said that Hamas would stand against any diplomatic deals that did not guarantee the historical rights of Palestinians.
He added that Hamas rejected terrorism, calling Islam the religion of coexistence and peace, and adding that the Palestinian resistance would fight “real terrorism” — the Israeli occupation.
Haniyeh cited Hamas’ new charter, stressing that Hamas was willing to work with all Palestinian political factions to carry out a political and resistance strategy in both internal and diplomatic Palestinian affairs.
He went on to stress the importance standing united to protect Palestinians without compromising their rights to freedom, independence, and return.
As part of this proclaimed desire to work on Palestinian unity, Haniyeh referred to a recent meeting between Hamas and discharged Fatah member Muhammad Dahlan in Cairo, which he said would have a positive impact on Palestinians.
With Haniyeh’s appointment as head of Hamas, the movement’s leadership has become concentrated in Gaza, leaving the political party dependent on the goodwill of the Egyptian government to maintain its leaders’ freedom of movement through their shared border, where Cairo has enforced the decade-long crippling Israeli siege.
Hamas’ strengthened relationship with Egypt comes amid a growing alliance with Dahlan — with whom Hamas has confirmed an alliance to challenge the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA).
Dahlan reportedly met head of Hamas in Gaza Yahya Sinwar during the visit to Cairo — supposedly without the knowledge of overall Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, indicative of a political split within the party — which was followed by a leaked report alleging that Dahlan was slated to be appointed as head of Gaza’s de facto government.
Fatah, the leading party of the PA, and Hamas have been in conflict since the Hamas movement won Palestinian legislative elections in January 2006 by a landslide and wrestled control of the Gaza Strip a year later.
On Tuesday, the PA announced that it had decided to push more than 6,000 civil servants from the besieged Gaza Strip into early retirement, the latest move in an increasingly bitter feud between Hamas and the PA — which has been marked in recent months by a dramatic decrease in electricity supply to Gaza and funding cuts to the medical sector in the besieged enclave.
On the issue of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, Haniyeh said on Wednesday that a potential prisoner swap deal with Israel was nearer than at any time before.
He also maintained that Jerusalem remained at the heart of the Palestinian struggle, and that Hamas would keep fighting to protect the holy city’s Islamic heritage against Israeli attempts at Judaization.
Haniyeh also added that Hamas’ eyes were on the occupied West Bank ready to support a potential revolution led by the “generation of the Jerusalem Intifada,” in reference to a wave of unrest that erupted in late 2015.