In a landmark speech on Friday, 6 October, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismael Haniya vowed to remain steadfast in the face of combined American-Israeli pressure and blackmail, saying the Palestinian government will never ever recognize the Israeli occupation or sell out Palestinian rights.
Speaking before thousands of supporters in downtown Gaza, Haniya said Hamas was willing to accept a Palestinian state on the entirety of the 1967 occupied territories, including al-Quds al Sharif (East Jerusalem) as well as the repatriation of Palestinian refugees in return for an extended hunda or truce with Israel.
The Palestinian premier castigated “those who are coercing us to recognize Israel ,” a clear allusion to some Fatah leaders, saying that this would never happen.
Haniya called for “national reconciliation” between Hamas and Fatah.
“I am inviting the leaders of Fatah and Hamas to meet tonight in order to reach a common concordance on contentious issues.”
Haniya also appealed to Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to come to Gaza to reach agreement on the formation of national unity government.
He lashed out at those who claimed that the formation of a government of national unity was disrupted or foiled by Hamas.
“We never sought to sabotage any prospective agreement to form a government of national unity. The opposite is true. We are still looking for genuine talks with the President to complete consultations in this regard.”
Haniya said he was still committed to the National Reconciliation Document (the Prisoners’ document), stressing that the proposed national unity government ought to be based on the said document.
Initially, both Fatah and Hamas agreed to consider the NRD as the base for national unity talks.
However, Haniya hinted that the PA leadership was coming under pressure from the Americans to effectively abandon the NRD and adopt the Quartet dictates, including unconditional recognition of Israel, putting an end to armed resistance to the Israeli occupation and accepting outstanding agreements between the PA and Israel including those Israel no longer recognizes.
Haniya also criticized Arab states saying that while Palestinians were appreciating Arab solidarity, it was sufficiently clear that these states were not doing enough to help the Palestinians who are facing a sinister siege aimed at bullying them to give up their inalienable rights in Palestine .
Haniya also tacitly warned Arab states to refrain from interfering in Palestinian internal affairs.
The Palestinian Prime Minister devoted the bulk of his speech to the internal Palestinian front, lambasting those who were seeking to destabilize the government by means of vandalism and lawlessness.
He asked “what do these acts of vandalism, murder and lawlessness have to do with the strike over unpaid salaries.
“Where in the world a strike is enforced by machine guns.”
Haniya added that his government never arrested and never would a single political prisoner held by his government.
“We have been cursed, called traitors, vilified and called all kinds of names. We read newspapers and we listen to radio stations, and they say all kind of things and indulge in all kinds of incitement, but we never arrested a single person for expressing his views.”
Haniya said despite the suffocating economic and financial siege, the government was able to procure hundreds of million of dollars from Arab and Muslim donors.
“The problem is that due to this oppressive siege, we have not been able to bring the money.
Non the less, he pledged to pay advanced payments for more than 20,000 Palestinian workers before the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Defying those within the Fatah movement who call for the resignation of the government Haniya said the government was enjoying four kinds of legitimacy:
“There is the legitimacy of resistance, for we all came from the womb of the resistance. And then there is the legitimacy of the ballot box which gave us one of the most transparent democratic experiments in the world. Then there is the popular legitimacy in addition to the legitimacy bestowed on us by the Arab and Muslim umma.”
Haniya’s speech is viewed here as a defiant gesture to the Fatah leadership and American-Israeli efforts to isolate Hamas.
Earlier this week, visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said openly that one of the key goals of here visit to the region was to empower Abbas and weaken Hamas.
Abbas, seeking to appease the Americans, said the dialogue with Hamas over the formation of a government of national unity returned to square one, blaming Hamas for reneging on earlier agreements on this regard.
Moreover, Abbas hinted that he might dismiss the government or even dissolve the legislative council in which case he would have to call for early elections in less than three months.
According to opinion polls in the occupied territories, Hamas could still win if elections were to be held now.