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Hamas leader seeks Arab-Muslim pact Vs Israel-US
Updated: 2004-04-20 08:44

Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal on Monday called for an Arab and Muslim alliance to defeat the United States and Israel.

"Our battle is with two sides, one of them is the strongest power in the world, the United States, and the second is the strongest power in the region (Israel)," he told hundreds of people at the al-Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus.

Khaled Meshaal attends a memorial ceremony for the former Hamas leader Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi in the Palestinian refugee camp of Al-Yarmouk near Damascus April 19, 2004. Hamas political leader Meshaal on Monday called for an Arab and Muslim alliance to defeat the United States and Israel. [Reuters]
"That is the caliber of the battle. We will not be victorious unless the other side of the battle is Arab and Muslim. All of the Arabs and Muslims," he said at a memorial ceremony for Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi, the group's Gaza leader assassinated by Israel on Saturday.

Meshaal, who survived a 1997 Israeli assassination attempt in Jordan, vowed Hamas would avenge the killing of Rantissi and the group's spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin on March 22.

The Hamas politburo chief vowed Palestinians would "turn Earth on their heads, God willing."

The Israelis live "in horror...ahead of our response, during it and after it," he said. "Do not worry, there will be a response and resistance will continue, God willing."

He urged the leaders of 22 Arab states and more than 30 non-Arab Muslim countries to "make an alliance, even a temporary one...to combine capabilities against the enemy."

"The problem is in us and not in the balance of power...if the (Islamic) nation would fight the same way (Palestinians and Iraqis) are fighting in Rafah, Jenin and Falluja then by God we will defeat both the United States and Israel," he said.

Arab and Muslim people "have a great duty and I do not want to tell them what to do... God will ask Arabs and Muslims what are they doing while the sons of Palestine are doing their duties," he said.

Hamas, which has vowed to destroy the Jewish state, envisages having Israel and the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip as part of a Palestinian state. It rejects the U.S.-sponsored "road map" peace plan which calls for establishing a Palestinian state next to Israel by 2005.

Meshaal told Reuters last Wednesday U.S. President Bush "fired a fatal bullet at the road map and at any other settlement plan" when he approved Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan for unilateral moves.

While endorsing Sharon's unilateral Gaza pullout plan, Bush also offered backing for Israel to retain parts of the occupied West Bank and a negation of any right of return of Palestinian refugees displaced in 1948 to their homes in what is now Israel.

Meshaal urged Arab leaders, who are expected to hold a summit meeting in Tunisia in May, "to declare the death of the so-called peace process."

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