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Haniyeh says Hamas not a terrorist organization

Dec. 2, 2012 7:59 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 3, 2012 7:49 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas and other Palestinian factions should be removed from international lists of designated terrorist groups, Gaza prime minister Ismail Haniyeh said Sunday.

"It is time to remove Palestinian resistance movements, that resist under international law, from the list of international terrorist groups," Haniyeh said during a meeting with a European delegation of politicians, academics and lawmakers.

"Hamas and other Palestinian factions are national liberation movements operating inside Palestine. We do not antagonize Jews anywhere in the world for their religious affiliation, but we have a problem with those who occupy our land."

The Gaza PM accused Israel of committing acts of terrorism and war crimes in Gaza, saying that Israeli leaders must be prosecuted for their ongoing crimes against the Palestinian people and most recently for Israel's eight day assault on Gaza.

Haniyeh briefed the European delegation on the damages and loss of life caused by the recent military assault, saying that Israeli forces deliberately targeted hospitals, sports facilities, medical centers and Palestinian journalists.

"The occupation's army did not want the world to see the destruction and truth about what was going on in Gaza," he said.

The Hamas premier welcomed the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement, but said that the core of instability in the region is the Israeli occupation.

"The important message is that we want the demise of the occupation of Palestinian land, and we want a fully sovereign state with its capital in Jerusalem, and we want to return our homeless people to their land," Haniyeh said.

Hamas is designated as a terrorist group by Israel, the US and the European Union, although many countries distinguish between Hamas' military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, and its political branch, which undertakes widespread social programs such as building hospitals, schools and religious institutions.

The United States also classifies the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Palestinian Liberation Front, the PFLP-GC, Islamic Jihad, and the Abu Nidal Organization as terrorist groups.
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