Friday, March 28, 2008

Hamas asks Arab summit to back armed struggle against Israel

Mar. 28, 2008

Gaza's Hamas rulers are asking the Arab states to cut ties with Israel, and support Hamas's armed campaign against it instead.

About 2,000 people were attending a Hamas-organized rally in Gaza, as Arab leaders convened in Damascus ahead of the annual Arab summit.

Hamas leader Khalil al-Haya said Israel would only respond to violence. "The Zionist enemy doesn't have a vision of peace. Only force... fighting and holy war works with [Israel]." The Saudi-sponsored peace initiative, first floated in 2002, offers Israel peace with all Arab countries in return for withdrawal from all the lands it captured in the Six Day War, the creation of a Palestinian state with a Jerusalem as its capital and a solution to the refugee issue.

Israel has rejected the initiative in the past, but has recently spoken favorably of it.

Mushir al-Masri, another Hamas leader, said the Arab initiative was a "burden" on Palestinians. "Hamas is defending the honor and dignity of this nation on the [Arabs] behalf," he said.

The rally was peppered with pleas from children for a lifting of the closure imposed on Gaza after Hamas violently seized the territory last summer. "Your summit will be useless if you don't lift the siege on Gaza," a young boy screamed into a microphone.

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