The head of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip on Sunday said the Islamic militant group has no intention of trying to take over the West Bank through violence.
Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Hamas government, said rumors that his group wants to seize power in the West Bank are "baseless." Hamas violently took control of Gaza in June, after routing forces from the rival Fatah movement during five days of fighting.
"I want to emphasize here that all the reports that we want to repeat what happened in Gaza in the West Bank are baseless," Haniyeh said in a speech. "This is not going to happen."
After the Hamas takeover, President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah expelled the Islamic group from the government and installed a new, pro-Western Cabinet based in the West Bank. Abbas has ordered a crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank, arresting dozens of activists in recent months.