World, Middle East

Hamas chief warns against US-backed ‘deal of century’

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh warns of US plan to offer Palestinians village as capital of truncated state

Hamas chief warns against US-backed ‘deal of century’ Head of the Political Bureau of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh (C) and Leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar (R) gather with mukhtars in Gaza to discuss recent developments on Reconciliation talks, in Gaza City, Gaza on December 26, 2017. ( Mustafa Hassona - Anadolu Agency )

By Nour Abu Aisha, Ali H. M.Abo Rezeg

GAZA CITY, Palestine

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh on Tuesday said U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was aimed at “terminating” the Palestinian national cause.

“The recent U.S. decision on Jerusalem is part of ongoing efforts to terminate the Palestinian cause within the context of a so-called ‘deal of the century’," Haniyeh said at a meeting in Gaza City with Palestinian tribal leaders.

On Dec. 6, Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, drawing condemnation and protest from across the Arab and Muslim world.

The controversial U.S. move, Haniyeh said, "has implications for the reconfiguration of the entire region and the [Arab and Muslim] nation… which will come at the expense of Jerusalem and Palestinian rights."

Hamas, he added, had received information of a U.S. plan to offer Palestinian leaders a state with its capital in Abu Dis, a Palestinian village near East Jerusalem.

"The plan involves building a bridge linking Abu Dis to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound [in East Jerusalem] with the ostensible aim of ensuring [Palestinians] access to the mosque," Haniyeh asserted.

He added: "There is also a talk of dividing the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound into three separate parts."

The Hamas leader went on to say there was “movement afoot in the region” aimed at creating a “political entity in the Gaza Strip endowed with certain privileges”.

He did not elaborate further.

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Middle East conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem -- occupied by Israel since 1967 -- might eventually serve as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.

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