'Without national unity we can't address national files': Meshaal

Ahram Online, Wednesday 21 May 2014

Convinced of the failure of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal declares that Palestinian unity 'promotes the choices of the resistance'

Head of the Hamas government Ismail Haniyeh (C) and senior Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmed (2nd L) sign a reconciliation agreement in Gaza City 23 April, 2014.

Khaled Meshaal, Hamas politburo head, said he believes Hamas has ended the era of Palestinian division, Egypt's state-run news agency MENA reported on Wednesday.

In a speech delivered before the Palestinian people in the National Conference for Maintaining the Constants, Meshaal said Hamas has made concessions and has converged with Fatah to face the challenges of the Palestinian cause.

Meshaal also assured that the resistance cannot end until Palestine is free and its refugees have returned.

"Without reconciliation and national unity we cannot address the challenging national files," Meshaal said in the speech delivered in Doha on the 66th anniversary of the Nakba.

Hamas signed a reconciliation deal last month with the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) in a surprise move which aims to overcome a years-long intra-Palestinian split.

Under their 23 April reconciliation deal, AFP reported, the two sides are to form an "independent government" of technocrats, headed by Abbas, paving the way for long-delayed elections.

Representatives from the rival factions have held several rounds of talks to mend the bad blood since Hamas expelled Fatah from Gaza in a week of deadly clashes in 2007.

The reconciliation deal has incensed Israel, hammering the final nail in the coffin of faltering US-led peace talks between Israel and the Abbas administration.

Meshaal pointed out that Hamas is ready to make even more concessions in order to achieve reconciliation. He also stated, however, that "Hamas will not yield before the occupation and will not compromise land, rights or resistance". 

Meshaal, who resides in Qatar along with other members of the Hamas politburo, stressed that "Israel is still an illegal entity despite all the political and media disinformation." 

Declaring that there was "no conflict between politics and resistance," he added that "Today, our unity is not a substitute to resistance; it actually promotes the choice of the resistance."

AFP quoted a senior Hamas official as saying on Sunday that a new Palestinian "consensus government" to be named by the PLO and the Islamist Hamas movement was to be finalised within days.

Speaking of the prisoners during his speech, Meshaal said Hamas will maintain its struggle in this regard; "it won't be long before we free our prisoners," he affirmed.

Throughout the nine months of peace talks, Israel released 78 of the promised 104 long-term prisoners, in a move which angered hardliners.

Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was freed in 2011 after over five years of captivity by Gaza militants in exchange for the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.

Meshaal finally called on Arab and Muslim nations to break the siege on the Gaza Strip and free the people from their confinement through official means.

The Rafah border crossing, Gaza's only land passage not controlled by Israel, has been mostly closed by Egyptian authorities following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. 

Meshaal ended his speech by stating that the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations had reached a dead end. "Everyone is convinced that there is no point in the negotiations," he said, adding that the Palestinians' options will widen with the reconciliation.

Israelis and Palestinians were back to square one in the peace process on Friday after Israel torpedoed US-sponsored talks in response to a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal.

"What will make a difference is building a strategy and mobilising all the power cards in our hands," the Hamas leader concluded.

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