Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has ruled out establishing a separate Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip after his movement routed forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Abbas fired the three-month-old unity government he formed with Hamas on Thursday but Haniyeh has refused to accept his dismissal as prime minister. Asked if he intended to declare Gaza Strip a state after taking control of the territory, Haniyeh said in an interview with France's Le Figaro daily published on Saturday: "No. Gaza belongs to all the Palestinian people and not just Hamas."
Haniyeh also said he wanted a "reciprocal, global and simultaneous" truce with Israel. "Separation is not on the agenda and never will be," he added. "We reject the idea of separating the Palestinian Territories between East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, which are inseparable."
Haniyeh said Hamas remained the legitimate government of the Palestinian Territories, adding that his forces had taken over in order to end violence he said was started by Fatah. "We will ensure discipline and the law in Gaza," Haniyeh said. "That way it will be easier to obtain the release of British journalist Alan Johnston. His kidnappers will listen to us more," he added."
Haniyeh repeated Hamas' call for a Palestinian state within the borders of 1967 -- Gaza and the West Bank, with East Jerusalem as its capital. He added: "We undertake to respect all the accords passed, signed by the Palestinian Authority. We wish for a reciprocal, global and simultaneous truce with Israel."