Posts Tagged ‘ Hamas Government ’

Hamas, Jordan probe possibility of better ties

March 31, 2014

The March 10 killing of Jordanian judge Raed Zuaiter by an Israeli soldier at a West Bank border crossing strained Israeli-Jordanian relations, and now a third party has entered into the crisis between Amman and Tel Aviv: Hamas. Osama Hamdan, Hamas’ head of international relations, condemned the killing and expressed his “deep appreciation for the popular movement in Jordan that is raising the issue of reopening Hamas offices in Amman in response to the incident.”

The reconciliation file

Ahmed Youssef, the former political adviser to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, announced that the movement “is looking to transfer its political bureau to Jordan, as it is keen to have a presence in the country. Jordan is the best location for [this office], considering it is an open arena and close to Palestine. Given the special and reliable relations that link the Palestinian and Jordanian peoples, it is an option the movement is inclined to choose.”

This statement came in response to a March 12 request by Jordanian parliament member Musa Abu Sweilem, who called on the government to reopen Hamas offices in Amman. Sweilem also expressed his readiness to mediate a reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.

A rapprochement between the Hamas and Jordan was further encouraged by Hamas spokesman Hossam Badran, who currently resides in Qatar. Badran told Al-Monitor that he doesn’t “mind Jordan taking on the role of mediator for a reconciliation in principle.” At the same time, however, he said that “Hamas has [not] received an official invitation regarding this topic.” He further noted, “Withdrawing this file from Egypt to Jordan requires a decision from Fatah and Hamas.”

Meanwhile, a Jordanian official who previously worked on the mediation file between Amman and Hamas told Al-Monitor in a phone conversation, “The relations between [Amman and Hamas], in terms of the role and mutual needs, are not new, in light of political, geographic and demographic reasons. Jordan is concerned with the rights of the Palestinian people — first and foremost, the right of return. It is also interested in internal Palestinian stability in order to prevent a collapse of the situation, and the resulting spillover, and dissociating itself from the internal Palestinian conflict.”

The official added that on the other hand, Hamas “is interested in the Arab and Islamic dimension, beginning with neighboring states, first and foremost Jordan. This is because the two sides have many common interests relating to security, stability and demographics, and to face the repercussions of Israel’s recent demands aimed at making Jordan an alternative homeland for the Palestinians.”

Jordanian chill in relations with Abbas

Talk of a rapprochement between Hamas and Jordan coincided with a chill in relations between the latter and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour has expressed his concern about the “presence of secret negotiating channels, of which Amman is not aware, between Tel Aviv and Ramallah. This is in agreement with [statements made by] former Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit, who said that he feared the existence of secret arrangements for an ‘Oslo II’ between the PA and Israel that would come at the expense of Jordan.”

The same Jordanian official, who preferred to remain anonymous, commented on this to Al-Monitor. He said, “Increasing talk about Amman’s fears regarding the PA could open the door for a rapprochement in relations with Hamas. The ‘alternate homeland’ option proposed by Israel in order to get out of the bottleneck in negotiations with the Palestinians is rejected by Hamas and Jordan more than by the PA. This means an increasing intersection of interests between the two, and is pushing toward the establishment of a strategic relationship.”

Thus, political circles in Amman heard private objections from the PA about a possible rapprochement with Hamas in the near future, despite assurances from the royal palace. The latter said that Jordan has no intention of making any substitutions in its map of allies and that the issue does not go beyond responding to the developments of the current stage and for purely tactical purposes.

Of interest, talk about Hamas’ possible return to Jordan coincided with the almost complete break in the movement’s relations with Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan condemned Egypt’s decision to ban Hamas, calling it a “serious turnaround in Egypt’s role in supporting the Palestinian cause and a frank expression of [Cairo’s] alliance and identification with Israel. This was done to alleviate the predicament of the coup and internal problems and to work to appease [Israel] in order to gain more international support.”

It would appear that relations between Hamas and Jordan are strengthened by Amman not banning the Brotherhood like Saudi Arabia and Egypt have done. Jordan’s internal equation does not allow for this dangerous scenario, which would harm its position with the Brotherhood and make this sensitive stage even more difficult.

Meshaal’s visit

Hamas is well aware that Jordan’s goal in improving relations with the movement isn’t necessarily to provide Amman new horizons in the region. Rather, the goal is more internal, aimed at helping to absorb the Muslim Brotherhood, which is influential and seeks real reform and the trial of figures involved in corruption in the Hashemite kingdom. Coming to an understanding with Hamas is considered a gesture of good faith toward the Brotherhood, whose influence in the street is a source of concern among decision-making circles.

A senior official in Hamas residing outside Palestine and speaking on condition of anonymity told Al-Monitor that the movement informed Jordan that it does not intend to use the kingdom as its primary arena for organizational work and came to an understanding regarding the limits on its relationship with the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood. The movement is aware that any new relationship with Jordan will be restricted to a minimum and will depend on its relations with the PA. Moreover, these ties would not affect Jordan’s commitment to its peace treaty with Israel nor its excellent ties with the United States, according to the official.

Despite the above steps and declarations, Al-Monitor has learned in a phone interview with a senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan that Amman has yet to approve a visit to the kingdom by Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. His trip has been postponed several times in recent months for various reasons amid silence on both sides.

Source: al-Monitor.


PPP: Hamas plans to impose new penal code on Gaza

March 29, 2014 Saturday

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The Palestinian People’s Party said in a statement Saturday that it opposes Hamas’ attempts to change the penal code in the Gaza Strip.

The Hamas movement that governs Gaza is attempting to impose a new penal code on the Strip, one that is inconsistent with basic the Palestinian law that has been applicable in the West Bank and Gaza since 1936, the PPP statement said.

Citing comments from the secretary of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza and the chief of the council’s legal committee, the PPP said that Hamas-affiliated lawyers were preparing to replace the 1936 penal code with a new one.

“Hamas and its parliamentarian bloc do not have the right to pass such a law in the name of the Palestinian parliament,” the PPP statement said, adding that changing the penal code in Gaza would further divide Fatah and Hamas.

A legal adviser from the Palestinian human rights organization al-Haq said that the new penal code in Gaza would include regulations from Shariah law.

Source: Ma’an News Agency.


Thousands of Hamas supporters rally in Gaza

March 23, 2014

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Tens of thousands of Hamas supporters thronged the streets of downtown Gaza City on Sunday, a show of strength at a time when the Islamic militant group faces its deepest crisis since seizing power seven years ago.

Hamas is dealing with a severe financial shortfall, caused by heavy pressure from both Israel and Egypt. But leaders stressed that the group remains opposed to Mideast peace efforts and is ready for battle against Israel at any time.

“The resistance is stronger than you think, and our force has doubled and our arsenal has doubled,” Hamas’ prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, told the crowd. “What is hidden from you is bigger than you think.”

Hamas staged Sunday’s rally to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the death of its spiritual leader, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, in an Israeli airstrike, and the assassinations of other top figures a decade ago. But a series of events in recent days, including Israel’s discovery of a tunnel stretching from Gaza into Israel, presumably to carry out militant attacks, and the killing of a top Hamas operative in the West Bank by Israeli forces, gave the rally an extra sense of defiance.

“From under the ground and above the ground, we say it loud: Occupiers go out. You do not have a place to stay on the land of Palestine,” Haniyeh said. Hamas, an armed group committed to the destruction of Israel, took control of Gaza in 2007 after overrunning the forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Since then, the Palestinians have been divided between two governments, the Hamas regime in Gaza and Abbas’ Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. In contrast to Hamas, Abbas favors a negotiated peace agreement with Israel and has been engaged in U.S.-brokered negotiations for the past eight months.

Hamas has fallen onto hard times since its key ally, Egypt’s Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, was ousted in a coup last July. Egypt’s new military government has cracked down on a system of smuggling tunnels along the border with Gaza, robbing Hamas of a lifeline that provided consumer goods, weapons and a key source of tax revenue. Israel has maintained a blockade of Gaza since 2007, restricting imports and exports and controlling the territory’s coastline and airspace.

The dual Israel-Egyptian blockade has plunged Hamas into its worst economic crisis since taking power. The group has struggled to pay its thousands of workers and has begun to face some discontent, even among core supporters.

In another setback for the group, Israel on Friday said it had discovered a new sophisticated tunnel stretching from Gaza into Israel. It was the largest in a series of tunnels Israel has found recently that it says are meant to carry out deadly attacks or kidnappings. On Saturday, Israeli forces in the West Bank killed a top Hamas operative after a standoff in the town of Jenin.

The financial crunch forced Hamas to call off its annual anniversary celebration late last year. Sunday’s rally was also scaled back due to budget woes. Unlike past rallies, Hamas did not provide buses to bring in supporters, and it refrained from putting up large displays and decorations.

Even so, the rally was meant to send a message that Hamas remains firmly in control. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets, including schoolchildren in military fatigues and women wearing veils. Waving Hamas flags into the air, the crowd turned downtown Gaza City into a sea of green. Hamas security forces carefully maintained order and diverted traffic from the area.

Hamas battled Israel during eight days of intense fighting in November 2012, firing some 1,500 rockets into Israel before Egypt brokered a truce. Since then, the group has largely refrained from direct confrontation with Israel, though smaller armed groups have continued to fire rockets.

Israel says it holds Hamas responsible for any attacks emanating from the territory. Top leaders of Islamic Jihad, a smaller group responsible for much of the rocket fire, sat in the front row of Sunday’s rally.

It was an unusually high profile role for the radical movement in a Hamas event, signaling that Hamas is at the least turning a blind eye to — if not actually supporting — the rocket attacks. Mahmoud Zahar, a top Hamas official in Gaza, said Israel should not be fooled by the period of calm.

“We are not interested in an escalation with the occupation,” he told Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV station. “However, if they dare to launch aggression on Gaza, our response will be more painful than what we did in 2012.”

Thousands attend festival organized by Hamas in Gaza

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Thousands of Palestinian citizens will attend a festival organized by the Hamas government in Gaza Sunday under the title “loyalty and steadfastness on the path of martyrs”.

Hamas is scheduled to hold a mass rally Sunday noon in commemoration of the assassination of the movement’s founder Ahmad Yassin, and its leaders Abdel-Aziz Al-Rantisi and Ibrahim Al-Makadima.

Leaders of Hamas and other Palestinian factions, including the Islamic Jihad, will attend the event.

Hundreds of thousands are expected to attend the rally.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


Hamas slams ruling banning the movement in Egypt

Tuesday, 04 March 2014

Hamas criticized on Tuesday an Egyptian Court’s ruling to ban the group’s activities and close its offices in Cairo.

A member of the Islamic Resistance Movement’s political bureau; Ezzat Al-Resheq said in a brief statement posted on Twitter: “The decision is political which targets the Palestinian people and their resistance”.

The movement’s spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said the court’s decision proves Egypt has abandoned its role to support the Palestinian steadfastness and resistance; stressing that Hamas will not retaliate despite this decision which he described as “unjust and unfair”.

“Our goal and our weapons will remain towards the Israeli enemy,” he said.

Egyptian advocate Samir Sabri sent an urgent appeal to Egypt’s interim president Adly Mansour; Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim and Prime Minister; Ibrahim Mahlab, demanding they ban the group’s activities and to list it as a terrorist organisation; claiming that many countries around the world have already done so.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


Hamas rejects intl. forces in Palestine

Sun Feb 16, 2014

The Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, has expressed its opposition to the idea of international troops being stationed in a future Palestinian state under a deal between the Israeli regime and the Palestinian Authority (PA).

“From time to time we hear people making offers during the negotiations, primarily about the idea of an international force following the retreat of the (Israeli) occupier,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement released on Saturday.

He added that the presence of an international force in a future Palestinian state would be “just like the Israeli occupation.”

He further urged US Secretary of State John Kerry and others to revise their positions, stressing that Hamas would not let anyone undermine its rights.

This is while the Israeli regime insists on keeping a military presence along the Jordan Valley that runs down the eastern flank of the occupied West Bank, bordering Jordan. However, the Palestinians have rejected such an idea.

“This so-called Kerry plan was put together by the Americans and the Zionist entity to eradicate the Palestinian cause. We will not let such an agreement give away our people’s rights,” Zuhri said, calling for “a united front of factions to reject the talks and their outcome.”

Earlier on Saturday, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh slammed the talks and said the Palestinian resistance movement would not be bound by any deal with Israel.

“The so-called American framework is not binding for us,” he added, referring to the US framework for the negotiations.

The US secretary of state is planning to unveil a framework document as part of the US-brokered talks between Israel and the PA.

Since the resumption of the direct talks, Palestinians have also objected to a number of other issues including the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

Source: PressTV.


Hamas displays Gaza grip, as protest call fails

November 11, 2013

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — A Facebook campaign calling for a “rebellion” against Gaza’s Hamas rulers quickly fizzled Monday, suggesting the long-suffering residents of the isolated territory are either afraid to protest, blame outsiders for their troubles or have simply lost hope.

Hamas maintains a firm grip on Gaza even though the Islamic militant group seems increasingly vulnerable because of growing hardship in the territory of 1.7 million people. Hamas’ main foreign ally, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, was toppled in a military coup in early July.

Egypt’s new government has since virtually sealed the country’s border with Gaza, destroying almost all the dozens of smuggling tunnels. The crackdown has led to price hikes, fuel shortages and longer daily power cuts in Gaza.

The Hamas government has lost tens of millions of dollars in tunnel revenues, or as much as half its monthly operating budget. It’s more than a month behind in paying its 42,000 civil servants. Gaza’s only power plant was recently forced to stop operating because it no longer could rely on cheap fuel smuggled from Egypt. Electricity throughout the strip is now on for six hours, then off for 12.

Gaza has endured Israeli and Egyptian border blockades to varying degrees since Hamas overran the territory in 2007 after defeating forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in the West Bank.

“Gaza is now living under the harshest phase of the siege,” the Cabinet secretary of the Hamas government, Abdel Salam Siyam, said Monday. Under Morsi’s predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, Egypt allowed most consumer goods and fuel to enter Gaza through the tunnels, even as it enforced some restrictions. Mubarak, who was toppled in an uprising in 2011, did not want to be blamed for a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

In contrast, Egypt’s military appears determined to keep the border sealed, arguing that Hamas is responsible for many of Egypt’s security problems, including the rise of militants in the Sinai Peninsula, which borders Gaza.

“All the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt should be closed because the tunnels are harmful to Egyptian national security and the Egyptian economy,” said Yasser Othman, the Egyptian envoy to the West Bank. “Egypt can’t remain silent on this matter.”

The Rafah passenger crossing between Gaza and Egypt has opened only sporadically, and thousands of Gazans trying to get to universities and jobs abroad have been unable to leave. Othman said Rafah would be opened only when security permits.

Just a year ago, Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, appeared to be riding high. A brief, inconclusive round of fighting with Israel last November ended with a cease-fire deal in which Israel promised to consider a further easing of its border restrictions on Gaza. With the Brotherhood in power in Egypt, Hamas also hoped its days of international isolation would soon end.

Now, Hamas seems to have lost most of its allies. Its traditional ties with Iran, a long-time financial backer, have been strained because Hamas came out in support of rebels fighting the Iranian-backed government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Ghazi Hamad, the deputy foreign minister in Gaza, acknowledged that government operations have suffered because of the cash crunch. Yet he insisted that Hamas can survive, arguing that the people of Gaza don’t blame their government.

“They understand very well that Hamas did not put the money in its pocket and prevent it from reaching the people,” Hamad said in an interview at his office. “I think people understand that external factors affect the situation here.”

Hamad offered no clear way out of the crisis. He said Hamas would continue to appeal to Egypt to ease the lockdown and to Abbas to renew talks with Hamas on a unity government. Such reconciliation talks have failed repeatedly over the years.

With Hamas seemingly vulnerable, a Facebook campaign called “Rebellion,” named after the Egyptian protesters that helped bring down Morsi, also urged Gazans to rise up, starting Monday. That coincided with the ninth anniversary of the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, the founder of Fatah, Hamas’ main political rival.

The campaign had three separate Facebook pages, though it was not entirely clear who was behind the “rebellion.” Some of the organizers are based in Cairo. On one of the pages, Ahmed Assaf, a Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, wrote Monday: “Our masses in the Gaza Strip, go out into the street on 11/11 and voice your anger against Hamas and its armed militia.” He did not return requests by The Associated Press for comment.

Fatah official Faisal Abu Shahla in Gaza distanced himself from the campaign. “This is just the activity of young people,” he said. “They do it on their own. There are no orders and no instructions.” There were no signs Monday of Facebook-inspired protests in Gaza City.

Yet Hamas was clearly jittery. When several journalists, including one from Germany and one from the Netherlands, asked university students in a Gaza City square about the “rebellion,” black-clad Hamas police swooped in and ordered the journalists to accompany them to police headquarters, where they were detained for about half an hour.

Hamas also rejected a Fatah request to stage an Arafat anniversary rally, according to Abu Shahla. “Hamas uses extreme force and an iron fist in dealing with these issues,” he said. Several years ago, such a rally drew a crowd of tens of thousands, and deadly clashes erupted between demonstrators and Hamas security.

Hamad denied that Hamas was suppressing dissent, saying Fatah was allowed in principle to commemorate Arafat’s death, but that there was disagreement over the location. Fatah supporter Adnan Abu Jaziyeh, 63, a retired Arabic teacher, stayed at home Monday, sitting in his living room decorated with Arafat posters and yellow Fatah flags.

“I would like to go out (to mark the anniversary), but I am afraid,” he said. “There is no rebellion. Everyone is afraid.” Nafez Abu Abed, 53, who trades in cement, said life in Gaza has gotten tougher since the Egyptian crackdown. With the tunnel closure, his supplies dried up.

Even so, he said, “people will not rise up against Hamas because they understand that Hamas did not cause this.”

Associated Press writer Mohammed Daraghmeh in Gaza City contributed to this report.