Agence France Presse
February 2, 2006
Hamas looks to Arab world, South America for support
DAMASCUS, Syria and RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Even as the United States,
European Union and Egypt ratchet up pressure on the Palestinian militant
group Hamas, the organization's officials hope to drum up support from
the rest of the world.
A Hamas delegation started a visit to the Syrian capital of Damascus on
Thursday to consult with the group's exiled political supremo, Khaled
Meshaal, a Hamas spokesman said.
Meanwhile, Thursday's edition of the O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper
said Hamas plans to send envoys to Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia and
Venezuela. South America is home to large Palestinian immigrant
Although Hamas won the majority of seats contested in last month's
Palestinian legislative elections, the USA, EU and Israel have
repeatedly said they will neither work with nor provide aid to any
government that refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist.
The officials going to Syria expect to discuss with Meshaal "travel
missions by Hamas delegations to Arab countries in order to present
their point of view," said Hamas's representative in Lebanon, Osama
Hamden.Hamas announced its Damascus plans one day after Egypt called for
Hamas to renounce violence and recognize Israel.
Two countries, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have already promised $33 million
in aid to the Palestinian Authority. Israel has frozen $45 million in
tax rebates and customs dues that normally would go to the Palestinian
Hamas wants to reach out to South American leaders "to disabuse them of
the view that we are terrorists and to demonstrate that the problem is
the Israeli occupation," a Hamas spokesman, Abu Kuhri, told O Estado de
Kuhri said senior Hamas leaders would travel to the region seeking
support for the Palestinian cause, as well as potential investors.
Hamas leaders have rejected calls for the group to disarm before it can
form a government, saying they won a solid mandate from the Palestinian
people and will not accept any preconditions.
"Hamas cannot be circumvented," Hamas spokesman Mohammed Nazzal told
AFP."It is not the time to impose conditions on Hamas, which was given a
clear mandate by the Palestinian people and all parties should respect
the will of our people."
Nazzal was responding to comments made Wednesday by Egyptian
intelligence chief Omar Suleiman after a meeting in Cairo between
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak.Suleiman had said Abbas would form the government with other
parties if Hamas agreed to certain conditions, including a pledge to end
violence, respect past agreements with Israel and recognize the Jewish
state's right to exist.
The three-man Damascus delegation made a short stopover Wednesday in
Cairo after leaving the Gaza Strip, Hamas officials said.
Mussa Abu Marzuk, one of Meshaal's deputies in the Syrian capital, told
AFP Wednesday that a truce between Hamas and Israel "is always an option
and we can discuss this with the international community."
But he rejected Suleiman's conditions.
"It is not reasonable for an Arab or Palestinian official who wants
peace and democracy to impose conditions on the Palestinian people," he
Hamas, which maintains an armed wing and calls for the destruction of
the state of Israel, has spearheaded a campaign of deadly attacks
against the Jewish state in recent years.