Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh confirmed that there is no room for Palestinian resistance in Egypt and denied any Palestinian interference in the Egyptian crisis.
In a meeting with the newly released Palestinian prisoners on Monday morning, Haniyeh said: "The security of Egypt is partially linked with the security of the Gaza Strip. For this reason, it does not please us to learn that there are threats to Egyptian security."
"We empathize with the concerns of the Islamic world and while we do have positions on certain issues, we do not interfere in the internal affairs of other Arab countries. Because our focus is the Palestinian issue, and we are keen for it to remain a major issue for the Islamic world and to work towards its strategic interests," said Haniyeh.
Haniyeh pointed out that all media speculations concerning Hamas' preoccupation with Arab issues and the disregard for the Palestinian issue are simply untrue: "our people and our resistance aim to defy the occupation on our territory only. Our group has no role in the Sinai or any other Arab state. All that we ask is for the Arab world to stand beside us as we struggle to liberate our land and our prisoners."
Haniyeh stressed that many options are available to the Palestinian people and for the resistance to liberate prisoners, who are languishing in the prisons of the Zionist occupation. He emphasized that there is nothing wrong with pairing politics with resistance as long as they maintain certain constants and Palestinian rights. Haniyeh also went on to say that the prisoner issue remains a central issue for the Palestinian people and is not subject to seasonal negotiations: "The issue of prisoners is among the most crucial issues in our conflict with the occupation. We will not submit to the occupier on these particular barbaric and sadist policies."
Haniyeh pointed out that the main goal is to release Palestinian political prisoners and that the mechanism to achieve this will be resistance and diplomacy. "Our diplomacy will not be based on lack of concessions and compromise. The prisoner issue should not be subject to any political swaps because this is a fundamental and sacred right for all prisoners," he added.
"We welcome the prisoners. The mission of our organisation is to liberate the prisoners in any way we can; however, without making concessions that come at the expense of our nationalism," Haniyeh said. He stressed that the prisoner exchange deal that was agreed upon by Palestinian factions and the Zionist enemy is a bright chapter in the history of the Arab world and Palestine.
Haniyeh reiterated Hamas' keenness on achieving national unity and reconciliation by saying, "Once again, we confirm our insistence on reconciliation and our eagerness to end national division."
"We stand today in the midst of chaos plaguing the region. Gaza is facing difficult challenges as we attempt to strategically end the occupation." Haniyeh stressed that the reconciliation agreement is still a valid approach to achieving national unity and that the prisoners themselves have played a valuable role in ending divisions.
"Palestinian prisoners have the ability to achieve unity. They are able to unify Palestinian efforts and restore national unity. We saw evidence of this when our people went out to greet released prisoners in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," said Haniyeh.
Haniyeh congratulated liberators in the West Bank and he expressed his hope that prisoners will be released in future agreements as negotiations continue between Fatah and the forces of the occupation.
Haniyeh also addressed a message to isolated prisoner, Dirar Abu-Sisi: "We are with you and we refuse to accept the injustice you and all of our prisoners continue to suffer." Haniyeh praised Jordanian prisoners who have managed to have some of their demands met thanks to their steadfastness.
Appealing to the military leaders in Egypt, Haniyeh said "The Palestinian government and Hamas completely understand the security issues facing Egypt and the Sinai in particular, but we demand that it is time to re-open the Rafah border crossing."
In an exclusive statement to Wakalat al-Rai, Haniyeh further remarked: "We wish for peace and wellbeing in Egypt and we ask God Almighty to protect the blood of our Egyptian brothers. However, the Palestinian people are greatly affected by the closure of the Rafah crossing and we hope that it will remain open permanently, especially since we do not chose any sides and we do not constitute a threat to Egyptian security."
Haniyeh also stressed that opening the Rafah border is the basic right of the Palestinian people and he pointed out that it is not acceptable to close the border under any circumstances.
Report by Abdullah Karsou