Hamas leader unfazed by placement on US terror list

Hamas leader unfazed by placement on US terror list

Ismail Haniyeh mocks Trump administration and says move to sanction him ‘will only make us move forward with confidence’

Khaled Abu Toameh is the Palestinian Affairs correspondent for The Times of Israel

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh delivering a speech in Gaza City, on January 23, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh delivering a speech in Gaza City, on January 23, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said on Saturday that the US decision to add him to the American list of global terrorists would not prompt his movement to shift in any way.

“The recent decisions of the US administration will not change Hamas’s positions and policies,” Haniyeh said during a ceremony honoring Quran “memorizers” at the Shati refugee camp west of Gaza City. “They will only make us move forward with confidence.”

On Wednesday, the US put the 55-year-old Haniyeh, who was named head of Hamas in May 2017, on its terror list and slapped sanctions on him.

Haniyeh said he was also referring to US President Donald Trump’s announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“The futile steps taken by the US against Jerusalem and the designation of us as terrorists are aimed at bringing us to our knees ahead of the deal of the century,” Haniyeh said.

“But we say that we will not surrender and this deal will not pass.”

Hamas’ leader Ismail Haniyeh (C-L) carries the body of Imad al-Alami, a member of terror group, during his funeral at the al-Omari mosque in Gaza City on January 30, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

The “deal of the century” was an apparent reference to a new Middle East peace plan that is reportedly being prepared by the Trump administration. Trump has called a possible Israeli-Palestinian peace accord the “deal of century.”

“We will continue to stick to the resistance in spite of the American decision to add us to the list of terrorism,” Haniyeh said. “We will not allow this decision to distract us from our basic cause — Jerusalem and the right of return.”

Earlier, the Hamas terror group denounced the US decision against its leader and called on the US to backtrack on its “hostile policies.” The PLO has also rejected the US decision.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki on Saturday voiced opposition to the US move against the Hamas leader.

Malki said that the US decision was aimed at “thwarting efforts” to implement the “reconciliation” agreement between Fatah and Hamas.

Malki’s remarks came during a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in the Turkish city of Antalya.

Turkey also condemned the US decision to put Haniyeh on its terror blacklist, saying it hoped the move would not have a negative impact on Ankara’s humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

“We are concerned that this decision of the US administration, which disregards the realities on the ground, could undermine the Middle East peace process, including the efforts for intra-Palestinian peace and reconciliation,” Hami Aksoy, the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in a statement.

AFP contributed to this report.

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