Saudi media is reporting on the latest stop in Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh’s tour of Arab countries; this time in Tunisia where he met with the new Tunisian Prime Minister and said that the first meeting between Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators in more than a year was “a futile gesture” that will lead nowhere. According to the report in Asharq Alawsat:
06/01/2012 TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — The prime minister of the Gaza government said Thursday the first meeting between Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators in more than a year was “a futile gesture” that will lead nowhere. Ismail Haniyeh of the Palestinian faction Hamas received a hero’s welcome at Tunisia’s airport where he was greeted by thousands of people chanting their support for the Palestinian cause. He also met with Tunisia’s new prime minister, Hamadi Jebali. “We are not optimistic. It is a futile gesture which will lead nowhere,” Haniyeh said regarding Tuesday’s Israeli-Palestinian talks in Jordan. The meeting ended without any significant breakthroughs, and Israel and the Palestinians remain far from agreement on key issues to resolve their decades-long conflict. But the talks are to continue. Haniyeh is on an official tour of the Muslim world, his first trip outside the blockaded territory since the Islamist group took over Gaza in 2007. In an interview, Haniyeh said Thursday he is visiting Tunisia to congratulate the country on the success of its revolution which launched the Arab Spring. Tunisia deposed its long-ruling dictator in January 2011, sparking uprisings across the region. Hamas officials say the goal of Haniyeh’s trip is to improve ties with Muslim countries swept up in the uprisings shaking the Arab world. Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Fatah movement joined in a short-lived unity government following 2006 parliamentary elections. But the following year the alliance shattered and Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip during several days of fighting, leaving the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in charge in the West Bank. Repeated attempts at reconciliation failed, and both sides have cracked down on the other in their respective territories. Reconciliation talks currently under way with Egyptian mediation appear to be making progress, with both Fatah and Hamas saying they hope to allow Palestinian elections to go ahead in 2012.
The Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haneyya, said that the message he would like to stress from Tunisia is that the political and economic blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip should be ended, adding that Palestine is not just a title, but a religious and national commitment. In a joint press conference he held with his counterpart Hamadi al-Jabali, at the Tunisian government headquarters on Thursday, Haneyya congratulated the Tunisian people on the success of their revolution and the success of their elections saying that these were historic events. He said that he was glad that Tunisia has started to deal with its problems and concerns. He said that chants of “people want the liberation of Palestine” that he heard on his arrival at Tunis airport meant a lot and that the march to liberate Jerusalem has started. He pointed out that Tunisia is a fundamental part of the Arab dimension to the Palestinian cause. He greeted the martyrs of the Tunisian revolution and praised the people who started the wheel of change in the region. He also said that he knows that Palestine is in the heart of every Tunisian man and woman and that the Tunisian people presented a civilized model in their revolution which shortened the road to the liberation of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and the blessed Aqsa Mosque.
Haniyeh was last reported in Sudan where meetings were reportedly held to discuss Hamas “joining the Muslim Brotherhood.
Previous posts have reported on other aspects of Haniyeh’s first trip outside of the Gaza Strip including the visit to the headquarters of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and his presence in Turkey for meetings with the Turkish Prime Minister and where he reportedly received a standing ovation from members of Erdogan’s AKP members at the Turkish parliament.