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Haniyeh: ball is in Israel's court on ceasefire

March 12, 2008 2:17 P.M. (Updated: March 12, 2008 2:17 P.M.)
Gaza - Ma'an - Deposed Palestinian Prime Minister Isma'il Haniyeh said on Wednesday that the ball is in Israel's court regarding a ceasefire, and that any agreement must be bilateral, simultaneous and comprehensive, including and end to the siege of the Gaza Strip.

In a televised speech during a graduation ceremony at the Islamic University in Gaza, Haniyeh called for all of the Strip's border crossings to be opened and that Palestinians' human rights be respected.

He emphasized that the news reports about Hamas seeking ceasefire in order to protect its leaders were completely false, and were meant to harm the movement's reputation, especially after the 'triumph' it achieved recently in the Gaza Strip. He was referring to a five day Israeli invasion of Gaza that failed to stop Palestinian homemade projectiles as Israeli leaders hoped.

Haniyeh pointed out that Israel and the US were attempting to uproot the Palestinian resistance in the West Bank. He also saluted West Bank residents for solidarity with the Gaza Strip saying, "Your wounds are ours; your goals are ours, your destiny is ours, and so we will never separate the Gaza Strip from the rest of Palestine."

Haniyeh talked about three strategies employed by Hamas' enemies: a political strategy of demanding that Hamas comply with the international Quartet's conditions, which include changes to Hamas' charter, a military strategy which he says the Palestinian people have courageously confronted, and an economic strategy in the form of the Israeli blockade.

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