Hamas leader embarks on regional tour amidst hardship

PA leader; ‘Israeli border ideas impossible for us’

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Posted on: 
31 Jan 2012
Hamas leader embarks on regional tour amidst hardship

Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of the Islamist terror militia Hamas in the Gaza Strip, set out on a regional tour Monday which will take him to Iran and the Gulf state, seeking to capitalize on the recent changes in the region to bring Hamas back into the regional mainstream, and also looking for new sources of support after a dramatic fissure with Iran over support for the Assad regime in Syria. A Hamas spokesman nevertheless confirmed that Haniyah had been invited to Teheran as a guest of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. A diplomatic source told Reuters that the $300 million a year Iran previously supplied to Hamas “has been in suspension since August." There have been rumors that Turkey has promised to replace this funding, but the government in Ankara vehemently denies it.

Hamas has found itself in an increasingly difficult position in recent months, as the Sunni Moslem Brotherhood, of which it is the Palestinian branch, has been slow to promise support despite winning recent elections in Egypt. Additionally, tensions between Sunni and Shi’ite dominated governments in other parts of the region have led to Hamas, which has allies in both camps, has found itself in an akward political situation, even as its longtime headquarters in Damascus has become inhospitable as the Assad regime battles against a growing insurgency, including elements of the Syrian branch of the Brotherhood.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian official told AFP on Sunday that negotiations in Amman between Israel and the Palestinian Authority were terminated by the PA because Israel had offered an “impossible” border.

"They said to us, Jerusalem is out of the question. Large numbers of settlers will stay in the West Bank. They were talking about impossible borders," the official said. "They didn't specifically mention the wall, but the details can be interpreted as them using the wall for the border."

"All their positions are based on the premise that the settlers and the Palestinians have equal rights to the West Bank," he continued. "The whole Israeli vision is based on this. The territory is not occupied, it's disputed, and both communities have equal claims to it. Of course, this only applies to the West Bank, they don't think we have any claim to Haifa."

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the Palestinians of stalling the talks.

"The Palestinians refuse to even discuss with us Israel's security needs," he said at the beginning of his weekly cabinet meeting. "The signs are not particularly good, but I hope they will come around and that they will continue talks in order to make progress towards negotiations."


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