Mohamed Morsy’s victory in the Egyptian presidential election is seen by Palestinians as a symbolic triumph for Hamas, which is an offshoot of the new president’s Muslim Brotherhood organization.

Hamas leaders were quick to welcome the election of Morsy, while Fatah’s representatives in the West Bank appeared to be less enthusiastic.

Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud Zahar were the first to congratulate Morsy on his victory.

In separate statements issued in the Gaza Strip, the two men hailed the election of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate as an historic victory for the Palestinians.

Haniyeh and Zahar also expressed hope that under Morsy, Egypt would “support the Palestinian cause and Jerusalem and lift the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.”

Relations between Hamas and the ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak had been strained for many years, especially after the Islamist movement won the Palestinian parliamentary election in January 2006.

Hamas’s relations with the ruling military council in Cairo had also been tense.

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Some Hamas leaders said that Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi and his generals were pursuing Mubarak’s policy of isolating the Gaza Strip by refusing to reopen the Rafah border crossing permanently and refusing to ease restrictions on the travel of its leaders and members.

“Hamas and the Palestinian people express their utmost happiness over the results [of the election],” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. “We see the result as a victory for the Egyptian revolution and an expression of the Egyptian people’s will.”

Hamas legislators in the West Bank said in a statement that they were hopeful that Egypt and the rest of the Arab countries would change their attitude toward the Palestinians following the election of Morsy.

The Palestinians, they said, “are in urgent need of Arab support to extract their rights, liberate their lands, defend Jerusalem and restore the Aksa Mosque to the Muslims.”

Hamas’s jubilation over the election of Morsy came as supporters of the movement took to the streets in various parts of the Gaza Strip to celebrate the results of the election.

The Islamic Jihad organization in Gaza also welcomed Morsy’s victory and voiced hope that he would support the Palestinian cause.

In Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority and Fatah also congratulated Morsy on his election, saying they respect the choice of the Egyptian people.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that the election was a “historic day for Arab and Egyptian democracy.”

He expressed hope that the election of Morsy would serve Palestinian interests and help put an end to the power struggle between Fatah and Hamas.

Over the past few years, the Egyptians have been playing a major role in mediation efforts to end the dispute between the two rival Palestinian parties. The efforts have thus far been partially successful.

However, some PA and Fatah officials in the West Bank did not hide their concern over the election of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate.

They pointed out that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt had always sided with Hamas in its conflict with Fatah.

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