image Photo: Reuters, Flash90

Hamas vows to “liberate all of Palestine”

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh received a celebratory welcome by local Palestinian residents and militants in the Ain El-Hilweh refugee camp amid his ongoing visit to Lebanon.

Speaking at a televised rally, the Islamist Political Chief proclaimed that his followers “swear in the name of Allah the Almighty” to “liberate all of Palestine” by the eradication of the State of Israel.

“We tell this enemy (Israel): we will never forget and never forgive this historical injustice, we will not forget our land, our principles, our Jerusalem, our right to return no matter the sacrifices, difficulties and obstacles,” he pledged.

In reference to the recent agreement by the United Arab Emirates to normalize ties with Israel, Haniyeh insisted that such developments “do not represent the people of the (Arab) world – nor its conscience, heart, heritage,  history or voice.”

The visit to the Palestinian town followed a series of meetings between the Hamas leader and Lebanese officials from the anti-Israel camp, including Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah.

In related developments, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed the Washington and Paris are aligned on all that pertains to the political situation in Lebanon.

“We are certainly in close conversations with the French,” said Pompeo, adding that the two countries “share the same objective” that “Business as usual in Lebanon just is unacceptable –  I think (French) President (Emmanuel) Macron said the same thing.”

After stating that the new Lebanese government must implement “significant reforms, real change,” the top U.S. diplomat stressed, “It’s what the people of Lebanon are demanding.  And the United States is going to use its diplomatic presence and its diplomatic capabilities to make sure that we get that outcome.  I think the French share that.  I think the whole world, frankly, sees the risk.”

Sec. Pompeo further underscored that the core challenge of Lebanon remains the Iranian-proxy Hezbollah.

“Look, the risk stares you in the face: missile systems, precision-guided missiles that Hezbollah holds in the south – we all remember the history of Lebanon.  Everybody disarms but Hezbollah.  This is the challenge that is presented.  And so those people who are either part of that or are playing footsie with Hezbollah should know that that’s not productive.  It’s not what the people of Lebanon want and it’s not what the regional security situation demands.  So I’m confident that the United States, the French, and all of us who are working there on the ground, both to meet the immediate needs in the result that flowed from the explosion that took place now several weeks back as well as the longer-term challenges that are presenting in Lebanon,” said Pompeo, pledging that, “We’ll all work on it together.”