The head of the political wing of Hamas, Khaled Meshal, implicitly called on the Palestinian Authority Wednesday to cease peace negotiations with Israel immediately, claiming that continuing the talks would endanger the status of Jerusalem. Meshal, who is living in Qatar with other Hamas leaders, was in Ankara this week, where spoke by video to a rally in Beirut. Meshal said only armed struggle against Israel could achieve the right of return and protect Jerusalem.
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Meshal called for reconciliation among all Palestinian factions, saying events in the Arab world were pushing some Arab countries and leaders to agree to concessions that endangered the status and future of Jerusalem. Without mentioning the Palestinian Authority by name, he clearly attacked the PA and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, for renewing talks with Israel, which he said constituted a danger to Jerusalem’s future status.
Meshal said plans were afoot that would lead to the destruction of the Al Aqsa Mosque because extremists in Israel had become influential in the country’s decision-making process.
Without mentioning Egypt or Syria by name, Meshal said every people has a right to fight for its freedom, but that conflicts within the Arab world should steer clear of bloodshed, ethnic strife and outside influence.
Meshal met in Ankara with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss Palestinian reconciliation efforts and regional issues.
Meshal has not made public appearances or statements to the media for the past few weeks. According to recent reports, he is practically secluded in his villa in Doha, with Hamas in crisis after it declared support for the Syrian rebels, which led to the leadership’s departure from Damascus.
Relations between Hamas and Cairo are at a nadir after the overthrow of its sister movement, the Muslim Brotherhood. The Egyptian press accused Hamas of interference in internal Egyptian affairs, which led to Egyptian action against the smuggling tunnels between Sinai and the Gaza Strip, which are Gaza’s economic lifeline.
According to recent reports, Hamas is seeking a rapprochement with Iran and Hezbollah, which may explain Meshal’s belligerent declarations in Beirut. However, the Hamas leadership has denied a strengthening of ties with Tehran.
Meshal’s visit to Ankara is meant to be a new outlet for Hamas, which views Erdogan as perhaps the group’s only ally left in the Middle East.