Hamas’ Gaza Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, took advantage of his diplomatic tour of Arab countries to meet with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Channel 10 reported on Monday.
Haniyeh, for whom this is the first trip outside Gaza since Hamas seized the coastal enclave from the PLO in a violent putsch in June of 2007, is scheduled to visit Sudan, Qatar, Bahrain, Tunisia, and Turkey.
He began in Egypt, Channel 10 reported, where he met with leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist party which has clinched the first two rounds of elections in the country.
Haniyeh met with the movement’s leader, Mohammed Badie, at the Muslim Brotherhood’s new headquarters in a suburb of Cairo. During the meeting, Haniyeh said that Hamas is the “jihadist arm” of the Muslim Brotherhood, adding that “our presence next to the Brotherhood threatens Israel and terrifies it.”
Badie, according to the report, added that the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters have “always been the symbol of freedom, mainly for the Palestinians.”
Haniyeh also met with the Arab League’s Secretary General, Nabil el-Arabi, and demanded answers regarding the Israeli naval blockade on Gaza. According to Channel 10, Haniyeh reminded el-Arabi that the Arab League has already decided to exert pressure on Israel so that it reduces the pressure on the residents of Gaza.
The Hamas Prime Minister also addressed the reconciliation agreement between his group and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction, and noted that the agreement is a strategic choice.
“We are working to implement what was agreed upon and to cancel the restrictions Israel and the United States are attempting to impose on the agreement,” Haniyeh was quoted as having said.
Last week it was reported that reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas had taken place in Cairo. The talks resulted in an announcement that Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other terror factions would be joining the PLO.
Following the announcement, several senior Hamas officials, including co-founder Mahmoud al-Zahar and politburo chief Khaled Mashaal, said that for the time being the organization intends to focus on popular protests in the spirit of the Arab Spring, rather than armed resistance against Israel.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that if Hamas joins the Fatah-led PA government, Israel will not be able to negotiate with the PA.