June 24, 2007 / 3:03 PM / 10 years ago

Haniyeh vows not to give up power despite Gaza siege

GAZA (Reuters) - Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Hamas-led government sacked by President Mahmoud Abbas, vowed on Sunday that isolation will not force the Islamist group to give up power from its Gaza stronghold.

Haniyeh accused Abbas, the Fatah leader, of violating Palestinian law by dismissing his government and then appointing an emergency administration in the occupied West Bank after Hamas routed Abbas's forces and seized control of Gaza.

In his first major speech since Hamas's takeover just over a week ago, Haniyeh said Abbas's actions have resulted in the separation of Hamas-ruled Gaza from a Fatah-dominated West Bank.

Rather than weaken Hamas, Haniyeh said, "experience proves that the more pressure on Hamas and the greater the siege will only increase Hamas's strength".

The Hamas leader dismissed Israel's decision to release Palestinian tax funds to Abbas as "bribery".

He said "resistance" against Israel was the only way forward for the Palestinians, brushing aside Abbas's push for renewed peace talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Haniyeh accused the United States of providing Abbas's Fatah forces with money and arms in order to "oust Hamas or push it to make political concessions", suggesting Hamas's violent takeover of the Gaza Strip earlier this month was defensive.

"The arms and money (for Fatah) showed that things were going towards a pre-planned explosion," Haniyeh said.

Fatah countered that Hamas accepts arms and money from Iran.

The United States and Israel want to isolate Hamas economically, diplomatically and militarily in its Gaza stronghold, while allowing funds and goods to flow to Abbas's emergency government.

"America will not give us anything. The occupation (Israel) will not give us anything. Our rights and lands will only return to us by steadfastness and resistance," Haniyeh said.

Israel agreed on Sunday to transfer several hundred million dollars to Abbas's government, a measure designed to undercut Hamas Islamists controlling Gaza.

The money, some of the Palestinian tax revenues withheld by Israel since Hamas won a 2006 election, is part of an initial package of benefits to bolster Abbas that Olmert is likely to announce at a summit in Egypt on Monday.

Haniyeh called Israel's release of the tax money "financial bribery" and "political blackmail" aimed at "deepening the crisis and divisions" between Fatah and Hamas.

"It is our right and our money," Haniyeh said. "But this money ... should reach all the Palestinian people."

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