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memri
January 23, 2012 No.
788

Isma'il Haniya's First Regional Tour Transforms Him From Hamas PM in Gaza to Regional Palestinian Leader

By: L. Barkan*

Introduction

In late December 2011, Hamas prime minister in Gaza Isma'il Haniya made an official tour of the region that included visits to Egypt, Sudan, Turkey and finally Tunisia. This was his first official trip abroad since the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip five years ago.

Especially noteworthy was his five-day visit to Tunisia, on which Haniya was accompanied by 20 of his government officials, and which came in response to an invitation by the new Tunisian government, headed by Hamadi Al-Jabali of the Islamist Al-Nahda party. Haniya was the first leader to visit Tunisia after the establishment of the new government there.[1] He was greeted at the airport by Tunisian Prime Minister Al-Jabali, government ministers, and Al-Nahda party chairman Rached Al-Ghannouchi, and was received by an honor guard and a band playing the Palestinian and Tunisian anthems – honors usually reserved for visiting heads of state.[2]

During his visit, Haniya met with Prime Minister Al-Jabali, President Munsif Al-Marzouqi, government ministers, Constituent Assembly Chairman Mustafa bin Ja'far, and senior Al-Nahda officials, including Al-Ghannouchi.[3] In his meeting with the president, Haniya invited him to visit Gaza and the latter accepted the invitation.[4] Haniya toured several cities and visited a number of mosques, and delivered a Friday sermon to an audience of thousands at a mosque in Kairouan. In the capital Tunis, he was granted the special honor of attending the conversion ceremony of a Frenchwoman converting to Islam.


Haniya with Tunisian President Al-Marzouqi

Haniya's Tunisian hosts expressed their belief in the legitimacy of the Hamas government and Haniya as its head. Hamas, for its part, indeed regards the visit to Tunisia, and the entire regional tour, as an indication of its growing acceptance in the Arab and Muslim world. Haniya stressed that the tour broke the political and economic siege on Gaza, and emphasized the connection between the Tunisian and Palestinian revolutions. He promised to continue on the path of jihad and resistance, and to refrain from recognizing Israel or relinquishing a single inch of Palestinian soil.

The visit was criticized by elements in the PA, who complained that the Tunisian authorities had disregarded them and failed to inform them about it in advance. It was also criticized by Tunisian opposition circles, which claimed that it constituted rapprochement with one Palestinian side only, and also a crossing of boundaries between the Al-Nahda party and the new Tunisian government.

The tour elevated Haniya's status from a local leader concerned mostly with Gaza affairs to a central Hamas figure capable of enlisting political and economic support in the Arab and Muslim world. Indeed, Haniya may be poised for promotion within the movement. In mid-January 2012, shortly after his return from his tour, Hamas announced that the head of its political bureau, Khaled Mash'al, had asked not to run again for this post in the elections slated for the middle of the year. Haniya has been mentioned as one of the figures who might replace him (as well as Mash'al's deputy Moussa Abu Marzouq, based outside of Gaza, and senior Hamas official in Gaza Mahmoud Al-Zahhar).[5] If Haniya is appointed to this post, i.e. if he becomes Hamas' political leader, the main weight of the movement leadership may shift to Gaza, which is likely to impact its status as a movement that purports to represent all the Palestinians - in the Palestinian territories, inside Israel and in the diaspora. It is also likely to impact the power balance between Hamas-Gaza and Hamas-Damascus, the latter of which, according to reports, is seeking an alternative location in light of the instability in Syria.

Haniya Received with Mass Rallies and Calls to Liberate Palestine and Al-Aqsa

Haniya was received warmly not only by the Tunisian authorities but also by the Tunisian public. Upon his arrival he was greeted by thousands who expressed their support for Hamas and its way, calling out slogans like "the people want to liberate Palestine" and holding up placards of Haniya and of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmad Yassin.[6] According to the London daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, dozens of Al-Nahda supporters called out "Khaybar, Khaybar, O Jews, the Prophet's Army shall return" (a reference to the battle of Khaybar, in which Muhammad's army killed a hundred of the Jews of the city and forced the rest to surrender).[7] According to a representative of the Hamas media bureau, Haniya's Friday sermon at the Kairouan mosque drew tens of thousands of worshipers, for the first time in years; they gathered in and around the mosque calling "With spirit and blood, we shall liberate you, Al-Aqsa." [8] After Haniya visited the city of Sfax, a local radio station reported that tens of thousands had heeded the call of the local Al-Nahda branch to come out and welcome "the Palestinian mujahid leader Isma'il Haniya."[9]


Tunisian citizens welcome Haniya during his tour of the country[10]

Tunisian Officials: Haniya Was Invited as the Head of a Legitimate Elected Government

Senior officials in the Tunisian government and the Al-Nahda party stressed that the Hamas government is a legitimate elected government, and called for strengthening ties with it. They expressed support for the Palestinian cause, which they described as a concern of the entire nation. An Al-Nahda official said that Tunisia would be happy to mediate between Hamas and the West, if asked to do so.

Some in Tunisia even speculated that the purpose of Haniya's visit was to prepare the ground for transferring Hamas' political bureau from Syria to Tunisia, or at least for opening a Hamas office there. Hamas as usual denied any intension of leaving Syria,[11] but did not reject the possibility of opening an office in Tunisia. At the conclusion of Haniya's visit, his advisor, Yousef Rizqa, said that Hamas had the right to establish offices abroad, and added that the possibility of doing so in Tunisia had not been discussed during the visit but would be discussed in the future.[12] Al-Nahda spokesman 'Abdallah Al-Zouari said that nobody in Tunisia would object to the opening of a Hamas office: "We want to strengthen ties with all the liberation movements and legitimate elected parties, and with all the free people in the world. Opening a Hamas office in Tunisia is perfectly natural; [in fact] it should have been done several years ago. No political force in Tunisia will object [to this]... Possibly, opening such an office was one of the purposes [of Haniya's visit]... I think that the president's office, the prime minister's office, and all the [other] state authorities and institutions support the Palestinian cause and are sparing no effort to assist it, including by consenting to the establishment of a Hamas office in Tunisia."[13]

Tunisian government spokesman and Human Rights Minister Samir Dilou said: "Tunisia's legitimate elected government invited the head of the legitimate elected government in Palestine, Isma'il Haniya, to be the first official visitor to Tunisia after the establishment of [its] new government." Al-Nahda political bureau member Al-Sayyid Farjani said: "Tunisia... is welcoming Haniya as a democratic leader who attained [his position] via democratic elections. [His] government is an elected one, regardless of the inter-Palestinian disagreements, which we stay away from."[14]

According to the Hamas media, Al-Nahda chairman Rached Al-Ghannouchi told Haniya during their meeting: "You are the leader of Palestine. Your government is legitimate and was elected by your people. If the world thinks there is a different procedure that confers legitimacy upon a government, let it tell us what [that procedure] is."[15] During the reception at the airport, Al-Ghannouchi called Haniya a leader of the Palestinian revolution, and said that Tunisia was advancing the Palestinian cause as part of the nation: "Tunisia has seen a real revolution, and has a government capable of welcoming one of the leaders of the Palestinian revolution. This is a big day for the Tunisian revolution and for Tunisia's independence... The Palestinian cause is not the cause of a single people, but the cause of an [entire] nation, [and] Tunisia is part of that nation."[16] According to Haniya's advisor Yousef Rizqa, Al-Ghannouchi stated: "Palestine is the nation's thermometer: when Palestine is healthy, the nation is healthy, and when [Palestine] is ill, the nation is ill... The Arab revolutions must regard Jerusalem as their compass. If Jerusalem is [still] occupied, the revolutions are flawed. History proves that Jerusalem is the heart of the Arab and Muslim nation."[17]

Al-Nahda political bureau member Al-Sayyid Farjani said that Al-Nahda would be willing to mediate between Hamas and the West, and stressed that Tunisia's good relations with the West would not come at the expense of the Palestinians: "I am not a spokesman for the Tunisian government... [But,] speaking for the Al-Nahda movement, [I can say] that we are willing to take part in whatever promotes justice for the Palestinians... either as mediators or as an [interested] party. The Palestinian cause is a burning concern for the entire Islamic nation. If we can contribute anything – and we can – we shall not neglect to do so. We are not claiming that we can succeed where others have failed, but we will do our best. Everyone knows that Hamas maintains contacts with Western elements via various [channels]... [But in any case,] we will not sell out the Palestinian cause, or any just cause, for the sake of gain. Our good relations with the West... will not come at the expense of the Palestinian people... Welcoming Haniya on this positive visit was to everyone's benefit. It was not [meant as] a challenge to anyone and did not come at the expense of any Palestinian side."[18]

MEMRI TV Video: Haniya's Tunisia Visit (clips from various sources)
To view the video, visit http://www.memri.org/legacy/clip/0/0/0/0/239/0/3257.

Tunisian Opposition: The Visit Served the Interests of Al-Nahda

Not everyone in Tunisia was pleased with Haniya's visit. According to the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, the visit sparked criticism among left-wing oppositionists, who questioned its purpose and implications. They said that it implied an inclination towards one Palestinian side, which is known for its religious orientation, and that Haniya's hosts were using it to gain support among the Tunisian public. They demanded to know whether Haniya had been invited as the head of a dismissed government, as a Hamas member, or as a Palestine leader. They also claimed that it was not clear whether Haniya had been a guest of the Tunisian government or of the Al-Nahda party, since both government members and party members had been involved in inviting him and had attended the events held in his honor.[19]

Haniya: The Tunisian Revolution Was the First Step Towards Liberating Jerusalem

Haniya took advantage of the visit to express his opinion on the Arab revolutions and their impact on the Palestinian cause and on Israel. He said that the Arab Spring, which had started in Tunisia, benefited Gaza and its elected government and laid the cornerstone for a new Middle East, noting that it is an answer to the U.S.'s plan for "creative chaos" in the region. He stressed that the Tunisian revolution was the first step towards liberating Jerusalem, and promised to cleave to the path of jihad and resistance and not to relinquish a single inch of Palestinian soil. He also promised not to recognize Israel and said that he opposed negotiating with it.

At a press conference with Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Al-Jabali, he said that the Arab Spring had done justice to Gaza and to its elected government, and that Tunisia had conveyed a message that the political and economic siege on Gaza must be broken. He congratulated the Tunisians on the success of their revolution, which he said hastened the liberation of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa, and on their successful elections. He added that Palestine was in the heart of all Tunisians, and that Tunisia constituted Palestine's "strategic depth."[20]

Addressing the thousands who came out to welcome him in the city of Sfax, he said: "Times have changed. Israel no longer has allies in Tunisia and Egypt... Do not heed the threats of the world [that is trying] to frighten you against [emulating] the model of Gaza, for we have won. [Today], on the first anniversary of the Tunisian revolution and the third anniversary of the Gaza war, we are besieging our former besiegers."[21] Speaking to tens of thousands in Tunis, Haniya declared that a new Middle East was emerging, founded upon loyalty to resistance and jihad, and added: "We are building a new Middle East, instead of the creative chaos that the American administration sought to generate. We have launched a magnificent revolution that has restored the nation's [independent] will." After his speech, Haniya presented a traditional Palestinian garment and a Koran to a young Frenchwoman who had converted to Islam at the rally.[22]


Sfax rally in Haniya's honor[23]

Visiting the town of Sidi Bouzid, where the Tunisian revolution began, Haniya called it a "Palestinian city," and said that Muhammad Bouazizi, whose self-immolation had sparked the revolution, was "a brother of the [Palestinian] martyr Muhammad Al-Dura" and a martyr of Jerusalem and Palestine, for he had died so that the nation and its glory and honor could live. He added: "The revolution spread to many other countries, liberating them from oppression. The Tunisian people emerged from under the rubble to tell us that all the years of barrenness and loss of identity had not managed to crush [its] reason and honor, or to banish Palestine from the Tunisians' hearts."[24] On the same occasion, Haniya said: "There will be no retreat from the Palestinian cause and no relinquishing of [even] an inch of Palestine, whose people will never recognize Israel at any cost and will continue on the path of resistance and jihad. This is their only strategic option for liberating Palestine and restoring Jerusalem, after two decades of negotiations have failed [to bear fruit]."[25]

At a meeting in Tunis, Haniya stated: "The Arab Spring... and the awakening of the free Arab peoples, have prompted the Palestinians to continue their struggle to liberate all the Palestinian lands."[26]

A week after his return from Tunisia, Haniya said that the goals of the Palestinian people now transcend [the borders of] Gaza and encompass all the Palestinian lands, and added: "We shall see the army of Palestine and Islam upon the walls of Jerusalem, and conquer the holy city as Constantine conquered it."[27]

Hamas: The Visit Reflects Arab Support For Our Movement and For the Path of Resistance

Hamas attributed great importance to Haniya's regional tour, especially to the visit in Tunisia. It considers them resounding proof that the Arab and Muslim world legitimizes Hamas and supports it, whereas the PA and Israel are losing their clout and legitimacy, and that the post-revolutionary Arab states are refusing to accept Western dictates. The Hamas media covered the tour extensively, and the website of Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV dedicated a special page to it.


Webpage dedicated to Haniya's tour[28]

According to Hamas government spokesman Taher Al-Nounou, the welcome given Haniya in all the countries he visited was a clear sign that "the peoples are rallying around the option of Hamas and its government in Gaza." He stated that the Tunisians were supporting and assisting the Palestinian cause, and rejecting Israel.[29]

Speaking in Tunisia, Yousef Rizqa noted that this country's prime minister and president had "clearly said they were welcoming Haniya as the head of an elected government," and stressed that the visit had not been "confined to the Al-Nahda party, but [had included] meetings with all the political and party leaderships in the country."[30]

In an article published in the Hamas-affiliated daily Falastin, Rizqa wrote: "Haniya never imagined that, after being besieged [in Gaza] and denied entry to Tunisia by the regime of [former Tunisian president Zine El-Abidine] Ben 'Ali, he would one day be the first [leader] to be welcomed by the new Tunisia. He never imagined he would be hosted at the Carthage Palace, and received in a way that reflects so much respect for the religion, the homeland and the resistance, and which unites the Palestinian and Tunisian revolutions, so that their goals, their discourse and their perspectives become one."[31]

In another article in the same daily, Rizqa wrote: "The new era in Tunisia is very different from the era that is over and done with. We are now entering an era of freedom, justice and democracy, an era of independent will that does not flinch from the anger of the Americans or of France, an era of heeding the will of the people."[32]

In a column titled "Isma'il Haniya, the Palestinian President," Faiz Abu Shamala wrote in Falastin that the visit to Tunisia had proved that Haniya represents all Palestinians and that he is spokesman for the entire nation: "Sheikh Isma'il Haniya has become the first Palestinian figure to command honor and respect and to represent the full spectrum of the Palestinian people. In fact, he has transcended the Palestinian [arena] and has become a spokesman for the nation at large, spurring the [younger] generations to wage war on Israel... He has broken the Israeli siege... He, who was a target for Israeli planes, has become a prayer Imam [for the Tunisians], telling them straight out: 'We will not recognize Israel. Resistance is our way to liberate Palestine, [so] come join the Army of Jerusalem in order to liberate the holy places and put an end to the Israeli age."

Abu Shamala added that the Palestinian Authority had failed to read the changing political map and had thus lost the support of the North African countries: "Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and all [the lands of] the Arab Maghreb have adopted the path of Hamas, leaving not even a single drop of water or piece of bread for the PA."[33]

PA Expresses Displeasure At Haniya's Tunisia Visit

The PA was critical of Haniya's visit to Tunisia and of the welcome he received there.[34] In fact, during the first days of Haniya's regional tour, it was reported that Fatah was attempting to sabotage it, though the movement denied this.[35] Haniya himself said that according to information he received from the Tunisians, 'Abbas had attempted to persuade them to cancel the reception for Haniya, but the Tunisian president had refused on the grounds that Haniya was a legitimate head of government.[36] This claim too was denied by the PA.[37] In any case, the Palestinian ambassador in Tunisia and other PLO representatives in the country did not attend the reception at the airport,[38] and complained that the Tunisian authorities had not informed them about the details of his visit. They also criticized Haniya for failing to visit the cemetery in Hammam Al-Shatt, the resting place of 68 Palestinians killed in the 1985 Israeli shelling of PLO headquarters in Tunisia.[39] As a matter of fact, towards the end of his stay Haniya did visit the cemetery and the site of the attack (including Yasser Arafat's office, the Palestine headquarters, and the Force 17 building), probably in order to demonstrate his status as a leader of all Palestinians and above internal conflicts.

During Haniya's visit, Tunisian President Al-Marzouqi invited PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas to visit the country as well and to attend the revolution anniversary celebrations later that month.[40] This was apparently an attempt by the Tunisian administration to compensate the PA for Haniya's visit and demonstrate impartiality towards the conflicted Palestinian sides. The PA, however, replied that 'Abbas would be touring Europe at that time and that PA Foreign Minister Riyadh Al-Maliki would attend in his place.[41] The website of Hamas' daily Al-Risala reported, citing Tunisian media, that 'Abbas had told Al-Marzouqi in a phone conversation that he would only visit Tunisia if this country apologized for holding its formal reception for Haniya. According to the report, the Tunisian president replied that according to the Palestinians' own laws, Haniya was prime minister and would continue to be until the Legislative Council appointed someone else in his stead.[42]

In an attempt to calm the situation, Al-Marzouqi told an Algerian paper that he had met with Haniya at the latter's request, as a gesture of respect for Gaza which is suffering siege and starvation, and that he had pressed upon Haniya the importance of intra-Palestinian reconciliation. He added that his invitation to 'Abbas had been extended out of a desire to respect all the Palestinian sides and to refrain from interfering in intra-Palestinian affairs, and that the latter had declined for reasons of his own, not as an act of protest.[43]

It should be noted that all this is occurring against the backdrop of an ongoing delay in implementing the intra-Palestinian reconciliation agreement signed in May 2011, despite repeated attempts by both Fatah and Hamas to advance it. Haniya's advisor Yousef Rizqa stressed that Haniya's tour had not contravened the principles of this agreement and had not been meant as a challenge to anyone.[44]

Other Stops on Haniya's Tour of Enlisting Support for Hamas

As mentioned, prior to his arrival in Tunisia Haniya stopped in Egypt, Sudan and Turkey – all of which welcomed him warmly. Upon returning to Gaza, Rizqa said Haniya would conduct another tour in early February, to Qatar, Iran, Bahrain and additional Muslim countries.[45]

Haniya's tour began with a two-day visit to Egypt, where he met with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Al-'Arabi and with senior security figures, including Intelligence Chief Mourad Muafi. Among the issues discussed were the need to end the Gaza siege, rehabilitate Gaza, save Jerusalem, and promote the intra-Palestinian reconciliation.[46] He was also given a grand welcome by the Muslim Brotherhood. In a meeting with the movement's general guide, Muhammad Badi', he spoke of the close ties between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, and added: "The Arab Spring will become a blood-soaked winter for the occupation. The Zionist program is coming to an end." Badi', in turn, praised Hamas for its struggle and jihad, and said that Haniya's visit signaled that Egypt was recapturing its role of regional leadership.[47]


Muslim Brotherhood banner welcoming Haniya to Egypt[48]

Two weeks later, Haniya passed through Cairo again on his way back to Gaza from Tunisia, and met with Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyeb. The two agreed to hold an international conference on Jerusalem and the holy places, under the aegis of Al-Azhar. Al-Tayyeb said that he would be willing to visit Palestine and even become a martyr for its sake, if the Palestinian sides united.[49]

It should be noted that the Egyptian government did not hold a formal reception for Haniya, sparking popular protest in Egypt. According to the Hamas media, the protest prompted Prime Minister Kamal Al-Ganzouri to plan a meeting with Haniya during his second visit to Cairo, but this meeting was canceled under pressure from the PA. The Palestinian consul in Cairo denied these claims, saying that the PA had more pressing matters to deal with than Haniya's Egypt visit.[50] Al-Ganzouri himself also denied the report, explaining that he had not met with Haniya because he had been out of town at the time, and added that if Haniya returned to Cairo there would be no reason not to meet with him.[51]

Video Clip: The Muslim Brotherhood Welcomes Haniya[52]
To view, visit https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=705051154769.

Haniya's next stop was a four-day visit to Sudan, where he participated in an international conference in Khartoum on Jerusalem, met with Sudanese President 'Omar Al-Bashir along with Hamas political bureau head Khaled Mash'al,[53] and attended Sudan's Independence Day celebrations.[54] At the Jerusalem conference, he said that the city would only be liberated through steadfastness, resistance and jihad, and urged the Arab states to establish militias to liberate Jerusalem and to support the resistance.[55]


Haniya at Independence Day celebrations in Sudan[56]

Haniya's next visit, to Turkey, also lasted four days. He met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and was received with great enthusiasm at the Turkish parliament. In fact, the prime minister stopped in mid-speech to greet Haniya as he entered the assembly hall.

At their meeting, Erdogan said that Hamas was no terrorist organization but a movement that the Palestinians had elected, and that their decision should be respected. He added that the Palestinian problem and the conflict with Israel could not be resolved without Hamas' involvement, and that lifting the Gaza siege was one of the conditions for reaching a settlement with Israel. He declared that his country had a work plan for rehabilitating Gaza.[57]

Haniya also visited the Mavi Marmara, the ship that was boarded by the Israeli military during the May-June 2010 Gaza flotilla, where he gave a speech praising the Turkish people and the martyrs who had been killed on board. In the audience were hundreds of supporters of the IHH organization, which had leased the ship and was among the flotilla organizers.[58]

Upon his return to Gaza, Haniya pronounced the tour a success, saying that it had underscored the end of the siege on his government, on Gaza, and on all of Palestine. He added: "We saw that the main concerns of the nation, in its enterprise of awakening, are Palestine, Jerusalem, the Al-Aqsa mosque and Gaza, which are in the hearts of millions among the nation... Arab and Muslim leaders acknowledged that it was Gaza [that had started] the revolutions and the Arab Spring, and that had spread the spirit of rebellion against oppression and aggression in the region."[59]


Erdogan and Haniya at the Turkish parliament[60]

Palestinian Columnist: Haniya Was Received Like a Hero and Beloved Brother

Columnist for the Hamas-affiliated daily Falastin Bara Younis wrote that the visit had signaled a change in Hamas' status in the Arab and Muslim world: "Any Gaza resident following the prime minister's tour saw how the free peoples showered their kisses upon Haniya's head... They healed his wounded heart, that has bled for three years [since the Gaza war]. Every Gaza resident saw the respect Abu Al-'Abd [i.e. Haniya] received, which was like a medal pinned on his breast and on the breast of Gaza...

"Cairo, where the war on Gaza was declared, and where the last Pharaoh [i.e. Mubarak] met the same fate as the first Pharaoh, gave Haniya a hero's welcome, holding up his picture and calling his name! Sudan, [our] partner in steadfastness, in patient [endurance] of the bitter siege, and in defying the arrogance of the West, looked upon Haniya and Gaza and saw a mirror image of itself! Turkey, which adopted Gaza... and spilled the blood of its sons into the sea [for its sake], embraced Haniya as a beloved brother, as did its leader, Erdogan.

"The reception [for Haniya] surpassed anything we could have imagined. No other member of the nation except he could have received such a magnificent reception from both the people and officials. What is Haniya's secret?... His secret was revealed most clearly by Tunisia... when it received him with slogans like 'The Leader Isma'il [Haniya] Has Spoken: No to Recognizing Israel!'... or 'Resistance, Resistance, No to Reconciliation [with Israel], No to Bargaining!' That is the secret: insistence on steadfast principles and on resistance. Oh members of Hamas, people love you because you bear arms and uphold principles. The people welcomed Haniya as a [symbol of] persistence and resistance."[61]

Video Clip: Haniya Welcomed in the Tunisian Parliament[62]
To view, visit https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=705066763489.

* L. Barkan is a research fellow at MEMRI.

Endnotes:

[1] Palestine-info.info, January 6, 2012.

[2] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), January 10, 2012.

[3] Alresalah.ps, January 7, 2012.

[4] Alray.ps, January 6, 2012.

[5] Al-Ayyam (PA), January 22, 2012.

[6] Palestine-info.info, January 5, 2012.

[7] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), January 6, 2011.Following protests from Tunisian Jews, the Al-Nahda party condemned the antisemitic calls that were heard at the rally, saying that the citizens who had uttered them belonged to a marginal group seeking to sabotage the party. Haniya too referred to the calls, saying that Hamas had nothing against Jews – except those occupying Palestine. Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), January 11, 2012.

[8] Palestine-info.info, January 6, 2012.

[9] Alresalah.ps, January 7, 2012.

[10] Paldf.net, January 8, 2012.

[11] Palestine-info.info, January 7, 2012.

[12] Tap.info.tn, January 9, 2012.

[13] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), January 7, 2012.

[14] Palestine-info.info, January 6, 2012.

[15]Alresalah.ps, January 9, 2012.

[17] Felesteen.ps, January 10, 2012.

[18] Palestine-info.info, January 6, 2012.

[19] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), January 9, 2012.

[20] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), January 6, 2012; Palestine-info.info, January 5, 2012.

[21] Palestine-info.info, January 7, 2012.

[22] Palestine-info.info, January 8, 2012.

[23] Paldf.net, January 8, 2012.

[24] Palestine-info.info, alresalah.ps, January 7, 2012.

[25] Al-Sabah (Tunisia), January 8, 2012.

[26] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), January 10, 2012.

[27] Paltoday.com, alresalah.ps, January 16, 2012. Hamas Religious Endowments Minister Saleh Al-Raqqab said at a conference in Istanbul that most analysts and clerics regarded the Arab Spring as heralding the imminent return of the Islamic Caliphate, and that the most important outcome of the revolutions would be the expelling of the Jews from Palestine.[27] Alresalah.ps, January 16, 2012.

[28] Aqsatv.ps

[29] Felesteen.ps, January 8, 2012.

[30] Tap.info.tn, January 9, 2012.

[31] Felesteen.ps, January 7, 2012.

[32] Felesteen.ps, January 10, 2012.

[33] Felesteen.ps, January 9, 2012.

[34] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), January 10, 2012.

[35] Alaahd.com, January 1, 2012.

[36] Alresalah.ps, January 12, 2012.

[37] WAFA (PA), January 14, 2012.

[38] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), January 6, 2012.

[39] Al-Ayyam (PA), January 8, 2012.

[40] WAFA (PA), January 8, 2012.

[41] Al-Ayyam (PA), January 10, 2012. Al-Maliki did indeed visit Tunisia January 13-16, participated in the celebrations, and met with senior officials. WAFA (PA), January 16, 2012.

[42] Alresalah.ps, January 11, 2012.

[43] Al-Khabar (Algeria), January 15, 2012.

[44] Alresalah.ps, January 11, 2012.

[45] Maannews.net, January 15, 2012.

[46] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), December 27, 2011.

[47] Palestine-info.info, December 26, 2012.

[48] Alresalah.ps, December 27, 2012.

[49] Al-Ahram (Egypt), January 11, 2012.

[50] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), January 11, 2012.

[51] Palestine-info.info, January 12, 2012.

[52] Ikhwan.net, December 30, 2012. The film is accompanied by the Muslim Brotherhood's song "Islam Is the Solution."

[53] Palestine-info.info, December 29, 2011.

[54] Palestine-info.info, January 1, 2012.

[55] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), January 2, 2012. It appears that another important event occurred behind the scenes of this visit. According to reports, the Hamas Shura Council – a senior body which includes Haniya, Mash'al, and several other Hamas leaders from Gaza and abroad, and is responsible, inter alia, for electing the movement's political bureau – convened in Khartoum in the course of Haniya's visit there. Among the topics discussed was the establishment of a new branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, called The Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine, which may be headed by Khaled Mash'al. The establishment of such a body would allow the formation of an associated political party free of the label of terrorism carried by Hamas. With this party running in the next Palestinian parliamentary elections instead of Hamas itself, the West will not necessarily boycott the elections. It should be noted that until now Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood members have belonged to the Jordan branch of the movement. Al-Ayyam (PA), January 22, 2012.

[56] Paldf.ps, December 31, 2011.

[57] Felesteen.ps, January 1, 2012.

[58] Palestine-info.info, January 2, 2012.

[59] Felesteen.ps, Palestine-info.info, January 10, 2012.

[60] Paltimes.net, January 3, 2012.

[61] Felesteen.ps, January 8, 2012.

[62] Paltoday.ps. January 4, 2012 (the clip originally aired on Turkish state TV).