Hamas willing to deal with regional actors: Deputy head

Hamas willing to deal with regional actors: Deputy head

Hamas is dealing with region’s political actors without regard to ethnic or sectarian affiliations, group leader tells Anadolu Agency

By Suhib Qalalou

ISTANBUL (AA) – Hamas is dealing with all the region’s political actors without regard to their ethnic or sectarian backgrounds, Moussa Abu Marzouq, deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau, said in an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency.

Hamas has sought to prevent any conflict between the Palestinian people and Arab governments, including Egypt, Abu Marzouq said on the sidelines of a Wednesday meeting in Istanbul that brought together prominent Palestinian political figures.

"We are striving to eliminate any dispute between the Palestinians and any other Arab country," he said. "In this regard, Egypt has priority, as it holds the door out of Gaza via the Rafah border crossing."

He went on to urge Egypt to reopen the crossing on a permanent basis.

Israel sealed off the Gaza Strip after Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections in 2006. The Israeli siege on the territory was tightened in 2007 when the resistance movement took control of the coastal enclave.

Egypt, for its part, has kept its border with the Hamas-run strip tightly sealed since Mohamed Morsi -- Egypt’s first freely elected president and a Muslim Brotherhood leader -- was ousted in a 2013 military coup.

During 2015, the Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing for only 21 days to limited traffic, according to Gaza’s Interior Ministry.

In March, a Hamas delegation visited Cairo where it met with Egyptian officials. The visit was the first of its kind since Hamas-Egypt relations nosedived in the wake of the 2013 military coup.

Following the visit, Hamas officials told reporters that they had agreed with Egyptian officials to bolster security along the Egypt-Gaza border.

Regarding relations between Hamas and Tehran, Abu Marzouq said: "We have historical relations [with Iran]; we hope for normal relations irrespective of [Iran’s] differences with other countries".

Some Arab Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, accuse Iran of interfering in their internal affairs and instigating sectarian conflict -- allegations Tehran denies.

As for the stumbling reconciliation process between Hamas and rival Palestinian movement Fatah, Abu Marzouq said that, following a series of March meetings in Doha, a number of steps were taken aimed at resolving the outstanding differences between the two movements.

In 2014, Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement that called for the formation of a unity government tasked with overseeing eventual legislative and presidential polls.

Although the unity government was unveiled two months later, however, it has yet to assume any governing role in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

As for ongoing talks between Turkey and Israel aimed at normalizing relations, Abu Marzouq praised Turkey’s insistence that the decade-long Israeli blockade on Gaza first be lifted before diplomatic ties can be restored between the two countries.

Turkey-Israel relations have been suspended since May 2010, when the Israeli navy attacked a Gaza-bound Turkish aid flotilla in international waters, killing nine Turkish activists.

*Ali Abo Rezig contributed to this report from Ankara

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