Saturday, September 08, 2007

'Israel and occupation will disappear'

"Like the Israeli terror was leashed on Syria two days ago, it will reach each and every Muslim country if we remain in this situation," Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, said Friday, referring to the flyover that Syria alleged on Thursday IAF jets undertook the night before. The "situation" Salah was talking about in the "Aksa in Danger" convention in the Arab town Umm el-Fahm included references to most issues troubling Muslims in the greater Middle East: "Iraq is slaughtered in live transmission, Sudan cut in half in live transmission, Afghanistan disappears - and now Palestine is the victim of an evil scheme transmitted live. This is the time to test your leadership and its legitimacy," he called to Muslim leaders worldwide.

Salah dedicated much of his speech for calling on the warring Palestinian factions to reunite.

"I turn to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and to the Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, and swear you in Allah's name, in the name of the masses present here, in the name of our children and elders and in the name of the shaheeds - to renew the Palestinian dialogue. I call on you to establish a Palestinian unity government and to keep to the Mecca agreement [a Saudi-mediated unity agreement signed in Mecca in March]. Jerusalem and Al Aksa call you, do not let down their call," he told attendants.

Haniyeh, of Hamas, has been officially removed from duty as Palestinian prime minister by PA chairman Abbas, of Fatah, shortly after Hamas's violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in June.

Salah was recently accused of incitement, when he called on Palestinians to initiate a "third intifadah" to stop Israeli renovation works near the Temple Mount that he claimed were hurting the Aksa mosque.

On Friday he again issued a direct threat at Israel.

"Jerusalem and the Aksa Mosque have experienced occupation by various peoples in the past and lived through this occupation. I tell the Israelis: You and your occupation will disappear, Jerusalem and the Aksa Mosque will remain forever."

According to organizers, approximately sixty thousand people arrived to attend the convention. But Israeli police made an estimate that no more than 10,000 people came to the event.

This was the 12th time the convention took place. Shauki Hatib, chairman of the Israeli Arab Monitoring Committee, who usually attends, was missing this year, but MK Abbas Zakhur (UAL), head of the Islamic Movement's southern branch, made his first appearance in the convention. Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa gave a speech transmitted by video conference.

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