Hamas to world: Cut ties with Israel and force end to blockade
Exiled Hamas leader says continuation of contacts will 'reward Israel for its crimes', says Netanyahu and Barak should be tried.
Hamas chief Khaled Meshal on Tuesday called on all states to cut diplomatic ties with Israel and urged Moscow and Washington to make it end its blockade of Gaza, after nine people died when Israel raided Gaza-bound aid ships.
Israel seized six ships en route to the Palestinian enclave on Monday and detained or deported hundreds of activists who were on board. The attack sparked international outrage, particularly by Turkey, where some of the fatalities were from.
"We call on all Arab and Islamic nations, and all those who have relations with Israel, to cut all their relations and contacts in all shapes and levels with the Zionist entity," said Meshal, speaking in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.
"The continuation of contacts and relations with Israel is a reward for their crimes," he said.
Meshal, the exiled leader of the Islamist group, called on U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to force Israel to lift the blockade on Gaza it imposed in 2005 and tightened after Hamas took over the enclave in 2007.
"Take the bold initiative of a historic decision to break the blockade on Gaza and force Israel to do that," Meshaal said.
He also called on Egypt to keep the Rafah border crossing - the only one not under Israeli control - open permanently. Egypt said earlier it would be opened "for an unlimited time" to allow Palestinians and aid to cross the border.
"No blockade after today, the Gaza blockade is not acceptable after today. I say the blockade failed as a political tool in forcing Gaza and Hamas and the resistance to succumb. Its political aims have failed," Meshal said.
The European Union, a major aid donor to the Palestinians, and Russia demanded an inquiry into the Israeli military action against the aid flotilla and an end to the embargo.
Israel says the embargo is a response to Hamas's hostility and that its aim is to deny Hamas the ability to arm and to weaken the movement's popularity among civilians.
Meshal criticized the U.N. Security Council statement on the Israeli action which called for a "prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards" and condemned "those acts which resulted in the loss of ... civilians and many wounded".
"We say clearly we cannot allow Israel to escape from punishment. What the Security Council did today, under the shadow of a U.S. veto, pressure and bias, is a betrayal for humanity and not just for the people of Gaza and the supporters," Meshaal said.
"Israel must be punished "... and we call for the trial of [Defense Minister Ehud] Barak, [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and all Zionist leaders as war criminals," he said.