Re-elected Hamas chief says will work for unity

AFP reports: The newly re-elected chief of Hamas, Khalid Mashaal, pledged on Thursday to work to end a rift with his West Bank rival, President Mahmoud Abbas.

Mashaal, speaking at a pro-Palestinian conference in Cairo, “affirmed his movement’s solicitude for ending the division with its negative effects,” the Safa news agency quoted his as saying.

But he hinted that Hamas would not renounce its opposition to Israel’s existence nor its use of violence, conditions for Israel and the United States to accept it as a partner in a Palestinian government.

“The (Israeli) occupation exploits the division and placed hurdles before a reconciliation (with Fatah),” he said. Hamas would work for unity “but that does not mean abandoning fixed positions.”

Mashaal’s reelection was confirmed on Tuesday, drawing a cautious welcome from his Fatah rivals.

Meanwhile, AFP also reported: Hamas on Friday urged the United Nations to reconsider its suspension of food aid for Palestinian refugees, imposed after protesters stormed a UN depot.

The UN Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, stopped food deliveries after dozens of Gazans forced their way into the field office on Thursday, demanding reinstatement of a monthly cash allowance to poor families which was halted from April 1 due to budget cuts.

“This is an unjustified step from UNRWA,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.

“There is a right of peaceful protest for Palestinian refugees,” he said, adding: “We call on UNRWA to reevaluate its position and not to overreact to residents’ protest.”

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