Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas political bureau, made the remarks in an interview with the Doha-based Al Jazeera broadcaster on Wednesday, as Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank are preparing to mark the 72nd anniversary of the Nakba Day (the Day of Catastrophe) as well as the International Quds Day.
He said that Hamas supports any firm and real Palestinian action to counter Tel Aviv’s plans, emphasizing that the Palestinian nation cannot abandon its homeland and ideals.
Haniyeh emphasized the need for the resistance movements to have a free hand to stand against the Zionist regime’s US-backed expansionism.
He was apparently referring to the existing differences between Gaza-based factions and the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah over forming a unity government as well as ways to deal with the Israeli occupation.
Elsewhere, Haniyeh said Egypt has begun mediating indirect talks for a prisoner exchange between Hamas and Israel. He cited the release of all Palestinian captives as the main condition for any deal related to their freedom.
“Hamas will not be quiet about prisoners in Israeli prisons, some of whom have been held there for over 40 years already,” he added.
The Nakba Day is marked annually on May 15. It refers to the forcible expulsion of some 700,000 Palestinians from their lands and their scattering across refugee camps in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and neighboring countries in 1948, when Israel declared existence.
Now, 72 years into the occupation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new coalition administration is expected to impose Tel Aviv’s “sovereignty” over Israeli settlements and the strategic Jordan Valley in the West Bank.
US President Donald Trump’s self-proclaimed “deal of the century,” which was unveiled in January, effectively granted Israel a green light for the annexation in flagrant violation of international law.
Besides preparations for Nakba Day, the Palestinians, along with other Muslim nations and supporters of the Palestinian cause, are gearing up to mark the International Quds Day to reiterate their call for the liberation of their homeland.
The Quds Day, which is commemorated worldwide on the last Friday of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, is a legacy of the late founder of Iran’s Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini.
Abbas renews pledge to cancel Israel deals
Also on Wednesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas once again threatened that all agreements with Israel will be annulled if it announces the annexation of any part of the West Bank.
All the conspiracies to destroy the Palestinian cause ended in failure due to the resistance of the nation, he said, noting that the Palestinians will continue their holy path until they can hoist their national flags over the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Al-Qiyamah Church in occupied Jerusalem al-Quds.
Abbas also held Washington and Tel Aviv responsible for the dangerous consequences of any cancellation of Palestine’s agreements with Israel.
Palestinian Authority meeting to discuss Israeli scheme
Separately, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said that a meeting will be held to discuss ways to counter Israel’s annexation initiative.
“We are stepping into an extremely difficult phase, and the [Palestinian leadership] will convene an important meeting on upcoming Saturday to confront Israel’s decision to annex and impose Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank,” he said.
The Gaza-based Hamas and Islamic Jihad resistance movements are also invited to the meeting, but they announced in statements on Wednesday that they will not be taking part in the talks.
Hamas said the resistance movements will not join the forum while they cannot have a meaningful role there, adding, however, that it will participate in any meeting that the movement deems effective.
In turn, Islamic Jihad expressed hope that the participants in the meeting would take “serious decisions” towards restoring unity to the nation and confronting any Israeli plot to occupy more Palestinian land.
Jordan, Spain oppose Israeli land grab bid
Meanwhile, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi Jordan denounced Israel’s “catastrophic” annexation plan during a telephone conversation with his Spanish counterpart, Arancha González Laya.
The two sides agreed on the fact that any Israeli annexation of the occupied Palestinian territory violates international law and undermines the so-called two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to a statement released by the Jordanian Foreign Ministry.
“Any Israeli decision to annex settlements, the Jordan Valley and north of the Dead Sea in occupied Palestine will be catastrophic and will kill any possibility to achieve just peace,” Safadi said.
UK MPs call for economic sanctions against Israel
In a relevant development on Thursday, the UK House of Lords International Relations and Defense Committee asked the government to weigh serious economic sanctions against Israel if it goes ahead with its planned annexation of the occupied West Bank.
Committee chair Joyce Anelay said the plan would constitute a “violation of international law” and jeopardize the so-called peace process, urging the government to consider limiting Tel Aviv’s preferential access to British markets in response to such a step.
She asked about “consequences for [Israel’s] preferential access to the UK market, as set out in the UK-Israel trade and partnership agreement.”
“How would the UK distinguish between legal and illegal products in order to provide preferential access only for legal Israeli exports to the UK?”