No change in Gaza’s status — Hamas

DAMASCUS (AP) — A senior Hamas official in Syria said Thursday there would be no change in Gaza’s status and no Islamic rule declared in the territory after a near takeover of the seaside strip by the group.Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau, also ruled out Hamas separating Gaza from the West Bank.

He said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to fire his Hamas prime minister would complicate matters and that Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh would likely continue on the job.

Asked about the future of Gaza, Abu Marzouk said there will be no change. “Gaza will remain Gaza and there will be no changes in its future and will continue to be linked to the West Bank whether he [Abbas] removed the government or not.” He rejected talk of declaring an Islamic state in Gaza.

“This talk has no basis… We are committed to the rules and basic laws organising the Palestinian Authority,” he said.

Earlier Thursday, Abbas declared a state of emergency, fired Haniyeh, dismantled the Hamas-Fateh coalition and said he would form a new government. Abbas is also considering early elections at some stage, said his aide, Tayeb Abdel Rahim, in a news conference. Abdel Rahim said Abbas may “return to the people” when circumstances allow.

Abbas considers the Hamas fighters who have seized control of most of the Fateh-allied security headquarters in Gaza to be an “outlaw militia”, Abdel Rahim said.

“This measure [firing Haniyeh] further complicates matters and will yield no results,” Abu Marzouk said.

“The Palestinian prime minister will most probably continue to carry out his duties. Abu Mazen should have opened, rather than closed, the door to dialogue as he did in a hasty way,” Abu Marzouk said of Abbas’ decision.

Earlier in the day, Abu Marzouk warned Fateh against carrying the fighting with Hamas from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.

He also said that Hamas has talked with Abbas about a seven-point deal to stop the violence, but blamed some unnamed parties for blocking the deal.

Abu Marzouk told the Associated Press that Fateh has threatened to carry the fighting to its stronghold the West Bank, where Hamas is weak. There were already some sporadic clashes in some West Bank areas early Thursday.

“This is very dangerous for our people,” Abu Marzouk said by telephone in Damascus, where several top Hamas leaders live in exile. “All wise people, especially in Fateh, should be aware of this danger and should prevent the men of [Fateh]… from endangering the West Bank’s security as they had done in Gaza Strip.” Some 113 people, most of them fighters, have been killed since a spike in violence between the ruling Islamic Hamas and Fateh Sunday plunged Gaza into an inter-Palestinian war. At least 15 people died on Thursday.

Abu Marzouk said there had been an agreement Wednesday to calm down the situation and “talks with Abbas over a seven-point deal, but it seems that some people have no intention to end the current crisis in Gaza.” He refused to disclose details about the deal or speculate more why it had failed.

“Hamas has no intention whatsoever to shed the blood of any Palestinian. What Hamas is doing is just self-defence,” he said. “The battle of the Palestinians is only with the Israeli enemy.”

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