Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh has called on Christians around the world to oppose the Trump administration's "deal of the century", saying the proposal intended to solve the Israel-Palestine issue would end any hope of a two-state solution.
Haniyeh, speaking at a closed-door meeting with NGOs in Malaysia's administrative capital of Putrajaya on Saturday, said Christians were as much victims of Israeli policies as Muslims and were equally fervent in their opposition to the occupation.
"Israeli aggression is not only against the Muslims but many Christians in the Gaza Strip, West Bank, Jerusalem and elsewhere in the Palestinian diaspora are suffering," Haniyeh told South China Morning Post.
"The Christians in Palestine are together with all other Palestinians and they are among the those whose rights have been abused.
"I was in jail with a Christian activist and Christians have been very vocal in their opposition to Israel's illegal occupation. So I call on the Christians around the world to see what is happening and oppose any so-called deal of the century between the Americans and (the Benjamin)) Netanyahu (government)."
In December, Israel refused permission for Palestinian Christians living in Gaza to enter religious sites such as Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth during Christmas.
On Friday, Britain's Prince Charles expressed his support for Palestinians when he visited Bethlehem, where he attended a multi-faith service at the Church of Nativity " said to be the site where Jesus Christ was born.
"It breaks my heart that we should continue to see so much suffering and division," he was quoted as saying in the British media.
Some evangelical Christians " fervent supporters of US President Donald Trump " back Israel because, according to their religious beliefs, the gathering of Jews in the region is a prelude to the return of Jesus.
The US government infuriated Palestine factions in December 2017 when it recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved its embassy there, from Tel Aviv, in May the following year.
In June, 2019, Trump unveiled the economic part of what the media describes as the "deal of the century", involving US$50 billion in investments on infrastructure projects in Gaza, West Bank, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. The political portion has yet to be revealed but a two-state solution is expected to be absent from the proposal.
Haniyeh and a Hamas delegation were invited to Malaysia by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Hamas, self-described as the Palestinian resistance movement, is the de facto sitting government in the Gaza Strip after winning elections in 2006 to unseat Fatah led by President Mahmoud Abbas. However, in 2014, Haniyeh stepped down as prime minister, and put forward a number of other concessions in the hope of unifying Palestine's political factions.
The United States considers Hamas a terrorist organisation but Russia, China and Turkey are among the countries that accept it as a genuine political entity.
Haniyeh met Mahathir last week at the prime minister's office in Putrajaya. According to the Palestinian Cultural Organisation of Malaysia (PCOM), the two leaders reviewed the Palestinian situation, particularly Israel's actions against Jerusalem and Gaza. Haniyeh stressed the importance of thwarting Israeli plans and praised Malaysia's support for the Palestinians.
The PCOM said Mahathir reiterated his strong position in supporting the Palestinian people and their cause. He also emphasised the need for a comprehensive strategy to strengthen the Palestinian people.
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