Leading Palestinian Islamic Jihad member: Egypt should back Hamas, end media incitement

Ahram Online , Wednesday 23 Jul 2014

Khaled El-Batash speaks about Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Israel's attack on Gaza, and the Egyptian media in a short interview with Al-Ahram Arabic news website

Khaled El-Batash
Khaled El-Batash (Photo:Ahram)
A leading member in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement has demanded that the Egyptian regime back Hamas and the Islamic Jihad movement, saying it has been always embraced national liberation movements in the past. 
"Maybe Hamas made a mistake when it did not fully understand the crisis of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian regime after 30 June 2013. [But] it is important to understand that Hamas is a national liberation movement whose main cause is to liberate the occupied Palestinian territories," Khaled El-Batash told Al-Ahram Arabic news website Wednesday. 
The relationship between Hamas and the Egyptian regime after 30 June went from bad to worse, particularly after the designation of Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation. 
Ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi is currently standing trial on charges of espionage and collaborating with foreign parties, including Hamas. In March, the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters ordered the temporary closure of Hamas's offices and the banning of its activities in the country. 
Currently, the Islamic Jihad movement is mediating talks between Egypt and Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas has already rejected the Egyptian ceasefire initiative on Gaza, demanding its own set of conditions for a ceasefire agreement. 
El-Batash insisted that there should be amendments made to the Egyptian ceasefire initiative. "The Egyptian initiative is not rejected, but the condition regarding the immediate ceasefire should be amended. Then we can speak about truce," El-Batash said, adding that both Islamic Jihad and Hamas believed it necessary to speak about other demands and reach to an agreement regarding those demands before speaking about a ceasefire, which would happen eventually. 
Earlier Wednesday, in his televised speech on the anniversary of the 23 July Revolution, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi stated that borders can be opened and aid sent to Gaza after a ceasefire agreement is reached. 
On the other hand, Hamas is insisting on a set of terms before speaking about a ceasefire and truce, including the opening of borders and the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. 
Regarding the truce, the leading figure in Islamic Jihad said there have been no concrete results regarding a truce, despite all regional and international efforts. 
Asked about rumours in the media that Palestinian factions, in particular Hamas, wanted to put Rafah's border crossing under foreign supervision, El-Batash rejected the idea, saying that Rafah was an Egyptian-Palestinian crossing and cannot be under foreign control. 
Hamas has demanded in its set of terms for a ceasefire that Rafah crossing to be opened permanently with international guarantees. The Egyptian authorities opened Rafah briefly, and only for humanitarian cases, after several months of closure. 
El-Batash also demanded the Egyptian regime reconsider its policies regarding the Muslim Brotherhood. 
"They are important sect that can achieve a lot," he said.
The Muslim Brotherhood was designated a terrorist organisation last December. Thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters, including leading members, are currently in jail. 
Regarding the Israeli aggression on Gaza, El-Batash, whose group opposes the Oslo Accords, said that the timing of the Israeli attack on Gaza was aimed to foil the Egyptian role in forming a national unity government between Hamas and the Fatah movement. 
Earlier this year, a reconciliation agreement was reached between Hamas and Fatah, and in June a new Palestinian national unity government was sworn in. 
Since the start of Israel's "Operation Protective Edge," not less thatn 600 Palestinians — half of them are children — have been killed.
"Israel aims to transfer the battle to Gaza in order to divert the attention from what is happening in Jerusalem and the West Bank, in clashes and protests between Palestinians and Israeli forces," El-Batash told Al-Ahram Arabic news website. 
"The popular resistance exhausts the Israelis, especially that Israel occupation forces cannot face the popular anger in the West Bank," he added. 
Protests and clashes erupted in Jerusalem and the West Bank following the murder of 16-year-old Mohamed Abu Khadeir, burned alive following the abduction and killing of three Israeli settlers last month. 
Khaled El-Batash was also critical in his statements to Al-Ahram Arabic news of the Egyptian media, saying that it had caused an internal crisis in Egypt as well negative dynamics in inter-Arab relations. "The Egyptian media defamed the Arab media in general, whether inside the Arab world or outside; it lost its creditability," he said. 
"Instead of showing Arab solidarity and focusing on positive aspects like the current international movement against Israeli aggression, or sending relief aid, or even supporting the Egyptian initiative for a ceasefire, the Egyptian media went too far, inciting the murder of Palestinians in Gaza," El-Batash said, adding that current Egyptian media declared the Palestinian people an enemy without differentiating between innocents and terrorists. 
Many famous Egyptian TV hosts recently criticised and attacked Hamas and Palestinians. This week, controversial TV host Tawfik Okasha saluted the Israeli army and the Israeli government, asking them on his TV channel Al-Faraeen to destroy Hamas completely.
The mainstream media in Egypt has frequently accused Hamas, and other Palestinian Islamist factions, of creating chaos in Egypt since 25 January 2011, including being responsible for the killing of protesters in Tahrir Square.
Short link: