Hamas’s political leader Khaled Mechaal, in exile in Damascus, has made his first public statement, ruling out disarmament, since his party crushed the Palestinian’s traditional political leaders Fatah.
There are doubts about the Palestinian’s political and economic future under their new management, but Mechaal promises Hamas will succeed in politics and reforms in the same way it had succeeded in resisting Israel. First reactions from both Israel and the west world do not look promising, with many seeing red at the forest of green flags Hamas supporters have been waving since their Wednesday triumph. The US State Department says it will check all cash going to the Palestinians, from whatever source, and review its aid policies accordingly.President Bush rules out direct aid to any Hamas-led Palestinian Authority until it abandons violence and its call for the destruction of Israel. Tightening the screws, the US will now review all aid, from the UN and NGO’s and including humanitarian packages. Israel’s acting foreign minister is also wary about dealing with Hamas; “Elections cannot be a laundry to terrorism, and the fact that they participate in the election doesn’t change the position of Hamas as a terrorist organisation”, said Tzipi Livni. Last night there were more clashes between Hamas and suporters of the ousted Fatah party, with nine people injured in Khan Younis in the Gaza strip. Senior Fatah official Mohammed Dahlan has called for calm, but many Fatah activists plan protests in the West Bank today, and a faction of Fatah-affiliated terrorist group the al-Aqsa martyrs’ brigade says its truce with Israel is no longer valid.