Hamas's Zahar obtains Egyptian citizenship

Zahar says he'll vote for an Islamist candidate in Egypt elections, got citizenship under law that was little used under Mubarak.

April 30, 2012 18:04
1 minute read.
Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar

Mahmoud al-Zahar smirking (R) 311. (photo credit: Reuters)


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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.

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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.

Zahar said that he received an Egyptian passport in September 2011.

Hundreds of 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,” Zahar added.

“Abbas must also ensure that the next elections will also be held in Jerusalem. Without Jerusalem, there will be no elections.”

Hamas, 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 the Palestinians.

“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.

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