haniyeh gaza 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Against the backdrop of ongoing clashes between Fatah and Hamas loyalists in the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh declared on Sunday that the internal conflicts within Palestinian society would lead to the destruction of Palestinian interests.
During a speech at a special assembly in the Gaza Strip, Haniyeh urged all factions of the Palestinian people to join ranks in order to strengthen the Palestinian cause.
"We must do everything to prevent the possibility that the Palestinian people will degenerate into a civil war, which is a red line. Our differences and problems, and our struggle - they must be against the occupation, and these internal arguments must be arguments within the political sphere," he said.
"I want to promise the Palestinian people that despite the criticism that we speak against each other, and despite the high tones in our communication, I promise you - and this is a religious commitment - that the situation will not come to war. This is the commitment of the government and of all those who are passionate about the interests of the Palestinian people," he proclaimed.
Haniyeh also said Hamas and the government "will not recognize or normalize" relations with Israel. He said the main problem with the Arab peace plan, presented in 2002 by Saudi Arabia and endorsed by an Arab summit, was that it recognized Israel in exchange for an Israeli pullout from the West Bank, Gaza Strip, east Jerusalem and Golan Heights.
Haniyeh hinted that peacemaking with Israel could be left up to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who also heads Fatah. Haniyeh said the Arab plan "leaves a lot of room for political maneuvering" for Abbas.
Haniyeh said he still hopes for a unity government with Fatah, but Abbas said last week that negotiations have broken down.
On Friday, after collapsing during a speech at a Gaza rally, Haniyeh reaffirmed Hamas's refusal to recognize Israel and promised that any future Palestinian government would include his party, dismissing PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' efforts to establish a unity government as an attempt to remove Hamas from power.
AP contributed to this report.