Haniyeh: Hamas gov't ready to coordinate with Cairo

Hamas PM vows Gaza will not be a source of threat, but a source of stability to Egypt, Sinai, Rafah and El- Arish.

Hamas's Haniyeh enters Egypt through Rafah 370 (photo credit: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters)
Hamas's Haniyeh enters Egypt through Rafah 370
(photo credit: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters)
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh reiterated on Sunday his government’s readiness to activate “security cooperation” with Egypt to protect their shared borders, common interests and security.
He spoke first to thousands of worshipers attending an Id al- Fitr prayer service at Palestine Stadium in Gaza City, and again by telephone to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy.
Coordination should be between brothers and not enemies, Haniyeh explained.
“Yes, we want security coordination with our brothers and strategic depth [in Egypt] and not with the Zionist enemy,” he said, voicing his criticism against the security coordination between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.
In his sermon, the head of the Hamas de facto government spoke about the strong relationship between Egypt and the Gaza Strip displayed in the effort to contain the aftermath of the recent deadly attacks within Egyptian borders.
Haniyeh vowed that Gaza will not be a source of threat to Egyptians, but a source of stability to Egypt, Sinai, Rafah and El- Arish.
His remarks come after an attack on August 5 claimed the lives of 16 Egyptian border guards. Israeli security sources said the attackers captured two armored vehicles in Sinai to storm the Israeli border crossing of Kerem Shalom.
One of the vehicles made it through the border crossing before the attackers were killed by Israeli fire.
No one has claimed responsibility for the one of deadliest attacks in that area in decades.
Following the attack, the Egyptian Army launched a security campaign against Islamist militants in Sinai. The campaign included shutting the borders with Gaza and sealing the smuggling tunnels linking Sinai to the Gaza strip, as Egyptian officials held jihadis – infiltrated from Gaza – accountable for the attack.
In an unexpected public announcement, the PA supported Egypt’s campaign to seal all tunnels beneath its border with Gaza. Secretary to the PA Presidency Tayyib Abdul-Rahim said the tunnels only benefit a small minority and pose a threat to Egyptian national security.
Hamas has excluded a Palestinian hand in the attack and said investigations have not uncovered proof that Gaza is connected to the incident.
On Sunday, Haniyeh described the attack as a “heinous crime,” adding that Egyptians and Palestinians share the same blood and pain. “Your [Egyptian] stability represents the stability of the Arab and Islamic nation,” the website of the Filastin newspaper quoted Haniyeh as saying.
Haniyeh also expressed Hamas’s concern to avoid engaging the new Egyptian regime and revolution in trivial disputes, adding that this would alienate Cairo from the Palestinian cause. He claimed media outlets seek to harm the new and developing relations between the Egyptians and Palestinians.
Observers have expected the close relations between Morsy’s Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas in Gaza to ease the blockade on the Strip. However, the Rafah border crossing between Sinai and Gaza has been closed since the attack, and opens only occasionally for humanitarian cases and holders of foreign visas and passports.
Morsy phoned Haniyeh on Sunday in honor of the Id al- Fitr feast and told him Egypt would stand by Gaza, and that Egypt and the Palestinians were “on the same side,” according to Hamas website Al-Resalah.
Haniyeh expressed gratitude for Egypt’s support, and confirmed the importance of joint security cooperation.
He denied any Gazan plans for settlement in Sinai. “Egypt is for the Egyptians and Palestine for the Palestinians,” he said to the crowd, confirming that Palestinians are deeply rooted in their land and averse to emigration and settlement (for Palestinian refugees).
In his sermon on Sunday, Haniyeh saluted the steadfastness of Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails. He assured his audience that the “resistance” is determined to free the rest of the Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails. Palestinians freed in the Gilad Schalit deal last year were in attendance and greeted Haniyeh after he finished praying.
Haniyeh expressed his appreciation for the crowds of worshipers who came to al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount during Ramadan, saying their presence at the holy site confirms and strengthens the Palestinian sense of belonging to Jerusalem.
“It’s a message to the enemy that no one from the Palestinian people will accept your occupation... Jerusalem is ours and the land is ours,” he assured the masses.
Haniyeh said the Palestinians in the diaspora and the refugee camps are waiting for the time to return to their land from which they were displaced, and concluded his speech by saying “We will march to our Jerusalem, al- Aksa and homes.”
He made no reference in his speech to the stalled reconciliation process between Fatah and Hamas.