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World must heed Palestinian choice: Israel Islamists

Reader comment on item: [The Hamas Victory and] Prospects for Peace

Submitted by Sophie (Canada), Feb 6, 2006 at 15:46

World must heed Palestinian choice: Israel Islamists
(AFP)

6 February 2006


NAZARETH, Israel -The head of Israel's Islamic Movement called on the international community Monday to respect the large majority given to Islamist group Hamas in last month's Palestinian elections.


"Hamas did not get into the Legislative Council (parliament) in tanks but through the ballot box. In other words, Hamas represents the will and the choice of the Palestinian people," Sheikh Raed Salah told AFP.

He heavily criticised international pressure on the militant group to recognise Israel and renounce violence before forming a government.

"To the free speaking world which prides itself on respecting human rights and the right to self-determination we say: have humility and respect the will and choice of the Palestinian people."

He accused the international community of not helping the Palestinians in their quest for independence while the Palestine Liberation Organisation has been committed to peace talks after recognising Israel in the early 1990s.

"We have seen the result. Palestinian suffering worsens day after day. The number of martyrs and prisoners is going up and the (Israeli) siege gets stronger." he said.

Salah was released from an Israeli prison in July 2005, jailed for more than two years after being found guilty of ties with Hamas, contacts with foreign spies and preparing criminal acts.

Since his release, Salah has been barred from travelling abroad or visiting areas under direct Palestinian control without prior permission from police.

The Islamic Movement was founded in the 1970s and is split into two factions -- a radical northern one led by Salah and a more moderate southern branch led by founder Sheikh Abdullah Nimr Darwish.

The organisation has two MPs in the Israeli parliament and also controls five town councils.

The 1.2-million-strong Arab Israeli community accounts for 19 percent of Israel's population.

They are Palestinians or the descendants of Palestinians who stayed on their land when the state of Israel was created in 1948, unlike those who fled or were expelled from their homes and remain in the Diaspora to this day.

This Article is from Khaleej Times






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