På en markering av 24-årsdagen for opprettelsen av Hamas, lovte Ismail Haniyeh at Hamas aldri kom til å oppgi den væpnede kampen og aldri kom til å anerkjenne Israel.
Rene ord for pengene. Det spørs om de bringer en palestinsk stat noe nærmere.
Tens of thousands of supporters watched the Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniya, speak from a large outdoor stage in the shape of a ship with a model of Jerusalem’s Al Aksa Mosque. Denying speculation that Hamas would turn its attention to nonviolent resistance, Mr. Haniya said: “Today we say it clearly. Armed resistance and armed struggle are the strategic way to liberate the Palestinian land from the sea to the river.”
He was referring to all of Israel as well as to what his rivals in the Palestinian Authority want to become the state of Palestine — Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. He said Hamas had never said that “Palestine is only Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.” He hinted that should those areas be handed over by Israel, Hamas could take a “temporary” respite “without Israel being recognized and without any concession being made.”
Next week, Israel and Hamas are to carry out the second part of a prisoner exchange in which an Israeli soldier was freed for more than 1,000 Palestinians.
Political changes in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya augur well for Hamas’s brand of Islamist politics, and the flags of those countries were present on the stage. The flag of Syria, where there is a popular revolt against President Bashar al-Assad and where the Hamas exiled leadership remains based, was absent.
As Mr Haniyeh arrived on stage, a 10-man vocal group led the crowd in a chant of “We will not recognise Israel”. Earlier, the group had sung the praises of the Hamas military wing. But the only visible sign of armed militants at this year’s rally was a small contingent of masked men carrying AK47s and forming a ceremonial guard behind Mr Haniyeh as he greeted the crowd.
While insisting that Hamas wanted to end the split between it and Fatah – the purpose of further talks in Cairo between the two Palestinian factions scheduled this month – Mr Haniyeh implicitly pointed to a possible obstacle by stressing that Palestinian unity could not mean sacrificing the principle of “armed resistance”.
The uncompromising oratory at the rally glossed over political and military complexities which have seen Hamas leaders at times offer a long-term truce in return for a Palestinian state on 1967 borders, and make efforts, including for much of this year, to prevent smaller factions from firing rockets into Israel.