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Meshaal makes maiden speech of new term as Hamas leader

February 15, 2014 at 1:25 pm

The newly re-elected head of the Hamas political bureau, Khaled Meshaal, has confirmed that the movement is suffering a severe financial crisis, not least because Arab and Muslim donors have many other issues to support. “We used to have adequate financial resources, but not now,” Meshaal told a meeting of Workers for the Sake of Jerusalem in Cairo. “This is not a secret that we are just disclosing, by the way.”

Meshaal pointed out that Arab and Muslim donors, who have until now subsidised Hamas, have other priorities today. “Most Arab countries are suffering due to the economic crisis,” he said. “Gaza is not their only target for support.”

When asked about the reasons for the financial crisis, he said: “America, which started its war on terrorism ten years ago, is fighting a war Islam and Arabs. Hamas survived the financial crisis when the US-led war on terrorism began and it will survive it this time.”

Having been chosen to lead Hamas for the fifth time, Meshaal addressed several issues. Speaking about Palestinian prisoners being held by the Israelis, he pledged that Hamas will liberate them and mentioned that several of those released in the exchange deal agreed with Israel in 2011 have been elected onto the political bureau. “Who could have imagined when they were in jail that one day they would now be part of the Hamas political bureau?” he asked.

What about the defamation campaign being waged against Hamas by the Egyptian media? “It is an established principle for Hamas that we do not interfere in the internal affairs of any country,” he replied, accusing the media of making “false accusations”. Noting that Hamas is in “continuous contact” with several levels of the Egyptian leadership, he added, “They appreciate Hamas’s cooperation on certain issues.”

If, he went on, the Egyptian government really believed or thought that Hamas was complicit in the killing of 16 soldiers last August would the movement’s officials be allowed into the country? “Hamas and all Palestinians have an interest in protecting Egypt’s national security because that is part of Palestine’s security.”

On the reconciliation issue, Meshaal pointed out that it is at the top of Hamas’s agenda in the struggle to achieve Palestinian national goals.

Commenting on Israel’s apology to Turkey for killing nine Turkish citizens on board the Mavi Marmara in 2010, Meshaal said that the government in Ankara has its own policy regarding relations with Israel, “which it inherited”. Hamas’s policy is to have no relations with the occupying state. Nevertheless, he suggested that Turkey should be congratulated for putting conditions on the Israelis, including an apology, compensation and the lifting of the siege of Gaza.