Mahmoud Zahar, a top Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, revealed Monday that he had
obtained Egyptian citizenship thanks to an Egyptian law that allows Palestinians
born to Egyptian mothers to become Egyptian nationals.
Zahar told BBC’s
Arabic news service that the law had not been enforced under ousted Egyptian
president Hosni Mubarak.
For decades, most Arab countries have refused to
grant citizenship to Palestinians.
At the request of thousands of
Egyptian families who have Palestinian children, the new regime in Egypt began
in the past year granting citizenship to Palestinians, he said.
said that he received an Egyptian passport in September 2011.
Palestinians born to Egyptian mothers have also been granted Egyptian
citizenship since Mubarak’s ouster.
Asked whether he was planning to vote
in the upcoming Egyptian presidential election, Zahar said he would cast his
ballot for one of the Islamist candidates.
He said that efforts to
achieve reconciliation with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s
Fatah faction have been deadlocked, mainly due to the ongoing PA security
clampdown on Hamas supporters in the West Bank.
“Abbas must first ensure
freedom of activity for Hamas people in the West Bank who are suffering from
harassment and are being prevented from carrying out political activities,”
“Abbas must also ensure that the next elections will also be
held in Jerusalem. Without Jerusalem, there will be no elections.”
Zahar said, wants guarantees that its candidates in future elections won’t be
arrested by Israeli authorities, as has been the case with parliament members
who were elected in the January 2006 vote.
Zahar said he did not believe
that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was sincere about achieving peace with
“If Israel really wanted a Palestinian state, it
wouldn’t be intensifying settlement construction in the West Bank and
Jerusalem,” he said.
A truce with Israel was dependent not only on Hamas,
but on the agreement of all Palestinian factions as well, he said.