Hamas leader snubs disarmament demand

Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh waves after performing Friday prayers at a makeshift tent erected near the remains of a mosque, which witnesses said was hit by an Israeli air strike during a seven-week Israeli offensive, in Gaza City September 5, 2014.

Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh waves after performing Friday prayers at a makeshift tent erected near the remains of a mosque, which witnesses said was hit by an Israeli air strike during a seven-week Israeli offensive, in Gaza City September 5, 2014.

A senior Hamas leader Friday rejected Israel’s demand that the group be disarmed as a condition for ending the long-running blockade of the Gaza Strip and permitting the opening of an airport and harbor there.

Ismail Haniyeh told a gathering near Gaza City that “we cannot accept or deal with any international decision to disarm the resistance” – a reference to Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups.

Israel has said it will press for Hamas’ disarmament in indirect talks in Cairo aimed at charting a way forward for Gaza in the wake of a 50-day war that killed more than 2,200 people – almost all Palestinian. The fighting ended on Aug. 26.

Hamas is pushing for the opening of an airport and seaport in the densely populated coastal strip and the lifting of Israeli border restrictions imposed in 2007.

Israel has long said it must restrict the import of cement, pipes and other construction materials into Gaza because militants use them to build rockets, bunkers and cross-border attack tunnels.

Unlike the Western-backed Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, Hamas does not accept Israel’s right to exist.

 
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