Gaza's prime minister responded Wednesday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to Congress in which he called for an end to Hamas-Fatah unity, saying that Hamas will continue to take steps to bolster the reconciliation of the two factions.
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"We will insist on reconciliation, bolster steadfastness, and face occupation with unity," Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Wednesday, according to a report in Maan News Agency.
Haniyeh responded to Netanyahu's call to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas to "tear up" Hamas-Fatah unity, saying that Hamas will "tear up the occupation," the report said.
Islamist Gaza-based Hamas reconciled with the more moderate West Bank-based Fatah earlier this month in an Egyptian brokered unity deal. Israel has rejected the agreement, refusing to negotiate with a government involving Hamas, whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel.
The Gaza prime minister said Wednesday that the unity deal "must be implemented honestly and accurately," Maan reported. The unity deal calls for the creation of an interim transition government before elections are held within the year.
"I dont want to discuss details, but we need to implement each item entirely without any amendments that could harm the reconciliation agreement," Haniyeh reportedly said.
He continued, adding that "we must face Netanyahus remarks by enhancing steadfastness and resistance, and we should get out of the black mantle of the so-called negotiations," the report said.
Haniyeh implored Palestinian refugees to "practice non-violent field activities" such as those that took place on Nakba Day last week, in which thousands breached Israel's border with Israel demanding their right to return.
"Thousands approached the borders this year, so let it be millions next year," Haniyeh said.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has rejected the possibility of Palestinian refugees returning to Israel, saying that this would pose a real danger to Israel's Jewish character, placing the responsibility for their absorption on the future Palestinians.
In his comments to the press on Friday, Netanyahu recounted that 1948 created not only Palestinian, but Jewish refugees from Arab countries as well. He said that "tiny Israel" absorbed both Jewish and Palestinian refugees, yet the "vast Arab world" refused to take in the Palestinian refugees.
He added that the expectation that Israel absorb Palestinian refugees 63 years later is unrealistic, as this would destroy Israel's demographic integrity as a Jewish state.
Netanyahu said that the Palestinian refugee problem has to be resolved and that it can be resolved, but only "if the Palestinians choose to do so in a Palestinian state."