Ismail Haniyeh talks to his supporters during a Hamas rally in Gaza City.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Prime Minister's Office on Saturday denied that Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh would be given immunity from Israeli attempts on his life as part of the reconciliation deal with Turkey which the cabinet is expected to ratify next week.
The claim was seemingly made by coalition chairman David Bitan, who later said that his comments made at a cultural event in Beersheba on Saturday were misunderstood and taken out of context.
Discussing the pending deal with Turkey and what it means for Haniyeh, Biton stated: "What's certain is that we can't do anything to him anymore, he is secured. Not even the prime minister can give the order anymore."
Biton's comments prompted an angry denial from the Prime Minister's Office: "MK David Bitan is not privy to the details of the agreement with Turkey. His comments are incorrect and detached from reality. The issue [of Haniyeh] was not discussed during the talks."
The statement added that "Israel reserves the right to ensure its security in accordance with the circumstances."
Biton released a statement following the prime minister's denial, saying that, "My comments were misunderstood. First of all, I didn't say that any promises were made regarding Haniyeh. Israel always reserves its right to take any necessary measures at its disposal, and I meant nothing to the contrary."
The Likud MK added that "it was made clear to me unequivocally that such a thing was not at all included in the agreement."