World Bulletin/News Desk
Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Saturday denied reports about interfering in Egypt's internal affairs, calling on Egyptian officials to halt what he called "incitement" against the Gaza Strip.
In a speech marking the second anniversary of an Egyptian-sponsored prisoner swap deal between Hamas and Israel, Haniyeh described media accusations about a Hamas role in Sinai as "inaccurate".
"We don't have any military or security role in Sinai," he said.
"We are keen on preserving the Egyptian national security as we are keen on maintaining our own security," he added.
Relations between Egypt and Hamas have deteriorated since the July 3 military ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi.
Local Egyptian media accuse Hamas of interfering in Egypt's internal affairs and provide support for the Muslim Brotherhood, a claim dismissed by Hamas.
Haniyeh called on Egyptian officials to halt what he described as "incitement" and threats against Gaza and Hamas.
"This only plays into the hands of the Israeli occupation," he said.
The Egyptian military has launched a wide-ranging campaign to destroy the network of underground tunnels linking Gaza to Egypt, which in recent years have been used to smuggle badly-needed commodities into the coastal enclave.
"Gaza expects the blockade and restrictions from the Zionist enemy," Haniyeh said. "We expect cooperation and support from our partners to boost our steadfastness, break the siege and achieve reconciliation."
Haniyeh said Palestinians could do without the smuggling tunnels were Egypt to open up its border with Gaza rather than support the Israeli blockade.
But he hinted that Hamas was hard at work digging a different kind of tunnel - under the border with Israel, to strike at the Jewish state in a future conflict. Israel and Hamas fought an eight-day war in November.
The Israelis unearthed one such tunnel last week, saying its Palestinian operators apparently planned to kidnap a soldier or set off underground explosives.
Hamas did not claim or deny responsibility for that tunnel. But Haniyeh said in the speech that "thousands of heroes have been working in silence, below ground, to prepare for the coming battles in Palestine."
Haniyeh said that Hamas has never interfered in the affairs of any Arab country.
"We defy any side to provide a proof that Hamas had interfered in the affairs of any Arab or Islamic country," he said.
Willing to share power
Hamas also called upon rival Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday to end their six-year schism and form a unity government.
"Our conditions do not allow for keeping up differences," Ismail Haniyeh said in speech calling on Abbas and Fatah to renew dialogue with Hamas, schedule new elections and enter a temporary power-share.
"Let's have one government, one parliament and one president," Haniyeh said.
The overture was received coolly by Fatah, whose leader, Abbas, is engaged in a new round of U.S.-sponsored peace talks with Israel. Hamas refuses coexistence with the Jewish state.
Ahmed Assaf, a Fatah spokesman, said Haniyeh's speech "included nothing new, neither a clear plan nor a certain timetable".
Last Mod: 19 Ekim 2013, 16:48