On Sunday, Palestinian lawyer Ismail Haniyyeh confirmed he had accepted Hamas’s nomination and said: "I pray to God to help me to shoulder this great responsibility … to serve the Palestinian cause until the return of Palestinian rights."
As Israeli authorities implement a policy of ‘punishment’ on the Palestinian people for selecting Hamas leadership in January’s elections, Haniyyeh said that the Palestinian people will not be intimidated by Israeli policies aimed at "bringing the Palestinian people to their knees".
"These decisions do not frighten our Palestinian people and they do not frighten the coming Palestinian government. We had dealt with challenges in the past and we will be able to handle the coming challenges."
As meetings take place Monday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to finalize the appointment of Prime Minister, the Hamas Party’s nomination of Ismail Haniyyeh is not expected to face especially large hurdles, despite tensions between Abbas’ party, Fateh, and the now-majority Hamas party.
In Monday’s meeting, Haniyyeh and other Hamas party leaders indicated that they would be ‘open to negotiation’, saying, "We will engage in dialogue and everything will be on the table for discussion". But Haniyyeh also indicated that they would try to avoid confrontation with Abbas on particularly contentious issues — like Hamas’ refusal to recognize the state of Israel.
Says Haniyyeh, "We want to avoid any sharp debate, especially while the [Israeli] occupation refuses to recognise Palestinian rights and refuses to recognise the agreements signed with the [Palestinian] Authority."
At the opening session of the Hamas-led parliament on Saturday, Palestinian President Abbas had urged a future Hamas government to recognise past peace deals with Israel and commit itself to pursuing statehood through talks. Hamas rejected that call, stating that the onus is on Israel to ‘define its own borders’, before Hamas can consider recognizing it as a state.