Hamas is not interested in waging a new war or engaging in another round of violence with Israel and is prepared to sort out its differences with Fatah, the Islamic extremist group’s Gaza prime minister said Thursday.
During a ceremony with Hamas security forces in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh stated that though his organization was prepared for any attack, it was not anticipating another Israeli operation in the strip.
“We are uninterested in a new war,” Haniyeh said. “We are always ready for the renewal of hostility on the part of our enemies, but we do not live in fear of a new war.”
Israel saw an uptick in violence emanating from the strip last week, as rocket fire was followed by an Israeli contractor being fatally shot while working on the border fence, drawing Israeli reprisals.
Most analysts believe that Hamas, which fought a bruising war with Israel for eight days in November 2012, has little intention of engaging in another conflict.
Haniyeh said Hamas would soon make “important decisions” in order to create a positive atmosphere which would allow for national Palestinian reconciliation with Fatah.
“We are prepared now, more than ever, to achieve reconciliation and to end the split between Gaza and the West Bank,” he said.
Hamas and Fatah have been at odds since Hamas’s violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007, a year after it won a landslide victory in general Palestinian parliamentary elections.
Haniyeh’s comments came amid Hamas’s growing international isolation. The group’s relations with Egypt recently deteriorated following the ouster of Egypt’s Islamist president Mohammed Morsi by Egypt’s military.
Hamas is believed by Egyptian authorities to have assisted in an intricate Muslim Brotherhood scheme, dating back to 2005, to take over Egypt and “terrorize” it, according to a criminal indictment issued against Morsi last month.
In recent months, Egyptian security forces destroyed a number of Hamas arms warehouses near the northern Sinai Peninsula, Israeli officials told The Times of Israel.
“Even with Egypt, despite recent events that clouded the relationship, we are ready to clarify everything that prevents us from improving our relations with the Arab and Muslim countries,” Haniyeh said Thursday.
The Islamist group’s cash flow has recently suffered a severe blow as well, after Iran, once a major source of funds for Hamas, withdrew funding over the group’s abandonment of its Syria headquarters in January 2012 and opposition to Iran-backed Syrian leader Bashar Assad.
Haniyeh attempted to downplay the rift between his group and international actors and said he expected to rekindle relations with countries throughout the region.
“In this new year, we are ready to strengthen our ties with our brothers in the Arab countries,” he said.
Elhanan Miller contributed to this report