Hamas leader: Netanyahu indictment raises Palestinians’ morale
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Hamas leader: Netanyahu indictment raises Palestinians’ morale

Ismail Haniyeh says corruption charges against premier bolster his people’s ‘steadfastness’ and determination to resist Israel

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh attends a meeting with foreign reporters at al-Mat'haf hotel in Gaza City, June 20, 2019. (AP Photo/ Adel Hana)
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh attends a meeting with foreign reporters at al-Mat'haf hotel in Gaza City, June 20, 2019. (AP Photo/ Adel Hana)

The leader of the Hamas terror group on Saturday said the announcement of plans to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges has raised the Palestinian people’s morale.

Ismail Haniyeh told reporters in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip that the serious criminal charges against Netanyahu increased the “steadfastness” of the Palestinians.

The Hamas leader, who was attending a groundbreaking ceremony for a new hospital in Rafah, said the indictment would encourage more “resistance, both popular and armed.”

On Thursday, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced he will indict Netanyahu for fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes, making him the first sitting premier to face criminal charges.

The longest-serving Israeli leader is scrambling after two inconclusive elections this year and possibly an unprecedented third national vote early next year.

Earlier in the week, Hamas’s deputy leader said ongoing political instability in Israel points to the decline of the Jewish state.

In this photo released by the Hamas Media Office, Ismail Haniyeh, right, the head of the Hamas political bureau, shakes hands with his deputy Saleh al-Arouri upon his arrival in Gaza from Cairo, Egypt, in Gaza City, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018. (Mohammad Austaz/Hamas Media Office via AP)

Saleh al-Arouri, who is a part of Hamas’s leadership based abroad, made the statement in an interview with the terror group’s Al-Aqsa TV Tuesday evening.

Both Gantz and Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu have failed to form a government despite two successive elections. On Wednesday, Gantz ended his bid to cobble together a coalition, likely paving the way for a third election in under a year.

Arouri said Israel had seen an “extraordinary amount of stability,” especially under Netanyahu, who has been prime minister since 2009.

“Over the past number of decades, this Israeli regime has succeeded in building an effective political system that is internally efficient, able to serve this entity and build diverse and strong relations with the whole world — even to the point that it has made inroads in our Arab and Palestinian world. … Stability gives them power,” he stated.

But he described the political chaos over the last year, in which Israel has been run by a caretaker government, as “a paralysis” that was harming the state.

“This current political paralysis, contradiction of interests and the narrow-minded calculations that put the interests of an individual or party above their general interest is an indication that this entity’s state of affairs is deteriorating, if God wills,” he said.

“I see that their political relations are being harmed and their economic relations and conditions are being harmed because of this paralysis. I hope they do not have a way out of this paralysis.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a meeting of right-wing parties at the Knesset, November 20, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Also on Saturday, Haniyeh said the recent US decision to no longer regard Israel’s West Bank settlements as illegal was contrary to international law and “a blatant violation of our historic right to our land.”

He vowed that “Our people will not surrender to this American-Israeli junta that manipulates the fate of the Palestinian cause, the region and the nation, that wants to redraw the maps in the region to serve the occupation.”

Haniyeh also said he hoped to reach a comprehensive vision of free and fair Palestinian elections in which all sides would participate.

The Palestinians last held parliamentary elections in 2006, in a vote in which Hamas-affiliated candidates won a majority of seats. But internal strife with rival Fatah led to a bloody coup in Gaza in 2007, resulting in the ousting of the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority from the coastal Strip.

Ramallah-based Palestinian officials have recently said they would like to hold legislative and presidential elections in the near future and Hamas has indicated support for such a process.

Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.

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