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Syria said to ban Hamas leader Mish’al from appearing in media

BBC Monitoring

text of report by London-based newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi website on 6 November

[Report by Zuhayr Andrawus from Nazareth: "Head of Hamas's political bureau does not make press statements or give interviews. Muhammad Nazzal to Al-Quds al-Arabi: No tension between Hamas and Damascus. Reports claiming that Damascus has banned Misha'l from appearing in media outlets and that it has threatened to permanently deport him are not true"]

In a telephone conversation with Al-Quds al-Arabi from Damascus yesterday, Muhammad Nazzal, member of Hamas's Political Bureau, denied reports of tension in the relations between Syria and Hamas. He said that such reports are not true. A senior Palestinian source had revealed that the Syrian authorities recently issued firm instructions banning Khalid Mish'al, head of Hamas's Political Bureau, from appearing in all media outlets in response to pressure by US President George Bush's administration on the ruling regime in Damascus. At the beginning of this week, Al-Quds al-Arabi visited Mish'al's office to hold dia! logue with him but his personal secretary, Abu-al-Abd Ahmad, said that at present Khalid Mish'al will not make any press statements.

According to the same source, Damascus has cautioned Mish'al against appearing in any media outlets; otherwise he would be permanently deported from Syria. To prove this point, the same source stressed that Khalid Mish'al did not appear in the ceremony marking the eight anniversary of the Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa intifadah, even though Hamas usually insists on organizing a large ceremony in Syria to commemorate this occasion and during which Mish'al delivers a speech to a large audience concerned with the aforementioned. The source added that talks were held between senior officials in the Palestinian National Authority [PNA] and the decision-makers in Damascus in recent days in a bid to encourage Hamas to renege on the military coup it staged against the PNC in the Gaza Strip on 14 June. However, according to the source, the negotia! tions between the two sides did not produce tangible results due to th e intransigence of a trend within the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip.

Moreover, the source stressed that Hamas proposed to the PNA through Syria the immediate handing over of all border passages with the Gaza Strip and the handing over of 12 weapons pieces confiscated by the Hamas Movement from the headquarters of the Palestinian security apparatuses in a first step towards opening dialogue between PNA President Mahmud Abbas (Abu-Mazin) and Hamas, but that the PNA rejected this proposal because the weapons that were confiscated by Hamas from the headquarters of the security apparatuses were far more than the figure mentioned by Hamas. Moreover, PNA representatives stressed that the complete handing over of the headquarters is a Palestinian sovereign demand.

In a telephone conversation with Al-Quds al-Arabi yesterday, Hamas leader Muhammad Nazzal (Abu-Bara'), who resides in Damascus, said that these reports are absolutely not true. He added that Syria has not ! banned Mish'al from talking to media outlets. He noted that Mish'al is currently in Qatar, and that any party can contact him. As for the negotiations between Hamas and the PNA through Syria, Nazzal said that Hamas has not presented any initiative in this regard, noting that it is necessary to sit at the negotiating table without preconditions. Moreover, he stressed that there is nothing new with regard to the negotiations between the two movements due to Palestinian President Abbas's intransigence. In his response to a question, Nazzal said that he met with Jibril al-Rujub only once in Beirut and that there are no plans to hold another meeting between them.

Source: Al-Quds al-Arabi website, London, in Arabic 6 Nov 07



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