‘Hamas, Brotherhood unity bothers Israel’
CAIRO- The Associated Press
Ismail Haniya (R) maks the victory sign as he holds a joint press conference with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie in Cairo on Dec 26. AFP photoIsmail Haniya, Gaza’s Hamas Prime Minister, was in Egypt Dec. 26 on his first trip outside the blockaded territory since the movement overran it in 2007, saying his meeting with his Islamic ideological mentors threatens Israel. Sources in his office said that Haniya would visit Egypt and Sudan, after which he plans to go to Qatar, Turkey, Tunisia and Bahrain.
Ismail Haniyeh discussed Mideast politics with the leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which has emerged as the biggest winner in the first parliamentary elections in post-uprising Egypt, capturing nearly half of the seats so far. Hamas is considered an offshoot of the Brotherhood. Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie met Haniyeh at the group’s newly inaugurated headquarters in a Cairo suburb. “The Brotherhood center has always embraced issues of liberation, foremost the Palestinian issue,” Badie said, according to Egypt’s state Middle East News Agency (MENA). The Brotherhood renounced violence in the 1970s, but it supports Hamas in its “resistance” against Israel. Hamas is considered a terror group by Israel, the U.S. and EU, killing hundreds of Israelis in attacks. The West insists that before it deals with Hamas, the group must renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept existing peace accords.
Haniyeh described Hamas as the “jihadi movement of the Brotherhood with a Palestinian face.” He said his visit to the Brotherhood center would confuse and frighten Israel. “Our presence with the Brotherhood threatens the Israeli entity,” Haniyeh said according to MENA.
Israel has expressed concern that a new Egyptian government under Islamist influence might cancel Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel. Haniyeh said during his visit to the Arab League that reconciliation with Fatah is a “strategic” matter that should not be hindered by American and Israeli objections. Israel has said the closer Fatah gets to Hamas, the further it moves from a peace deal.