Julie Webb-Pullman reports

Haniyeh thanks Qatar, pledges to liberate all of Palestine

At an event in Gaza City today to honour former ministers and departmental heads, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said that the Strip’s Hamas-led government was the first in the region to face the transformation from running an Islamic organisation to running a state, an authority and a people.

Dignitaries honoured at today’s event

“It was the first experiment in Islamist rule in the region, and sparked a revolutionary surge in Islamist rule,” he said, referring to the democratic election of Islamic-dominated parliaments in Egypt, Morocco and elsewhere.

Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh

Haniyeh emphasised that the Hamas government is determined to liberate all of Palestine, not just parts of it, and is working to reconcile with Fatah to achieve this. He denied they had any plans for Gaza to be an independent entity.

Along with others addressing the gathering, such as the First Deputy Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council Ahmad Bahar, Haniyeh expressed praise and gratitude to Qatar for its pledge of more than $200 million for the reconstruction of infrastructure and homes in the Gaza Strip destroyed by Israeli forces during Operation Cast Lead.

Bahar also turned his attention to Egypt, urging its government to open the Rafah crossing for goods as well as people.

ends

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