Hamas leader talks unity in rare call to Jordanian king
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Hamas leader talks unity in rare call to Jordanian king

Ismail Haniyeh speaks with Abdullah II, 3 days after the monarch said Palestinian reconciliation is important for peace process with Israel

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

File: Jordan's King Abdullah II speaks during a press conference with US President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden at the White House on April 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)
File: Jordan's King Abdullah II speaks during a press conference with US President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden at the White House on April 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh had a rare phone call Wednesday with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, during which the two men spoke about the ongoing reconciliation talks between rival Palestinian factions to end a decade-long conflict.

“Haniyeh reviewed the recent political developments, especially the issue of reconciliation,” a statement released by Hamas said.

The Hamas terrorist group seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 in a bloody coup, leaving the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority with autonomous enclaves in the West Bank.

Earlier this month, the two factions signed an agreement in Cairo that allowed for the PA government to reassume civilian control of Gaza.

Hamas’s new deputy leader Salah al-Arouri (seated L) and Fatah’s Azzam al-Ahmad (seated R) sign a reconciliation deal in Cairo on October 12, 2017, as the two rival Palestinian movements work to end their decade-long split following negotiations overseen by Egypt. (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)

Haniyeh, according to the Hamas readout, said his organization was “serious” about implementing agreements and that the Palestinian division was “behind us, as this stage requires Palestinian unity.”

The phone call between Haniyeh and the Jordanian king came just three days after PA President Mahmoud Abbas visited Abdullah in Jordan.

Abdullah, in the phone call with Haniyeh as well as the meeting with Abbas, expressed his support for the Palestinian reconciliation process.

In his meeting with Abbas, the king also said he believed that Palestinian reconciliation was a necessary prerequisite for a peace deal with Israel.

The peace process was not mentioned during the phone call between Haniyeh and the king, according to statements released by both Hamas and the Jordanian Royal Court.

Speaking to Haniyeh, Abdullah “affirmed Jordan’s full support for the Palestinian brothers facing challenges” and stressed “the importance of working together to defend our rights in Jerusalem and support the Palestinian issue,” the Jordanian readout said.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh greets supporters during a rally to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the Hamas militant group in Jebaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, December 12, 2014 . (AP/Adel Hana)

According to the Hamas statement, Haniyeh stressed that Hamas opposes any proposal to establish the Palestinian state in Jordan.

“Hamas rejects all conspiracies and aspirations of the alternative homeland…Palestine is Palestine and Jordan is Jordan, and we will not allow any theories about the alternative homeland to pass in Jordan, which is an authentic Arab country with its own sovereignty, history and people,” Haniyeh said.

More than half of Jordan’s population is of Palestinian origin, though the exact percentage is unknown due to a lack of census data.

The once popular idea that Jordan might become a Palestinian state has fallen out of vogue among the majority of Palestinians, Israelis and Jordanians, though fringe groups on each side still keep the idea alive.

Hamas’s political leadership, once based in Amman, was expelled from the kingdom by Abdullah in one of his first moves after coming to power in 1999. With brief exceptions, Hamas leadership has not been allowed back.

The Hamas leadership at the time was accused of meddling in the kingdom’s internal affairs.

During his conversation with the Jordanian king, Haniyeh stressed that Hamas was committed to preserving Jordan’s security.

“The security of Jordan is our security, while the national security of Jordan is protected,” Haniyeh said.

The Hamas leader also expressed support for Jordan’s historic and current role as the custodian of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem.

A Jordanian official earlier this week reportedly said that Hamas would not be allowed to reopen its office in Amman despite the deal with Fatah.

“Hamas is a Palestinian party and movement and its place and work are in Palestine and on Palestinian lands,” the official reportedly said.

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