by Saud Abu Ramadan
Deposed Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haneya on Sunday said U.S. President-elect Barak Obama and the Israelis will not overcome his movement.
Speaking before hundreds of thousands of Hamas supporters who gathered to celebrate the Islamic movement's 21st anniversary in Gaza city, Haneya said: "You will not win and will not defeat this great people," referring to Obama, "the Zionists and those who participate in blockading the Palestinian people."
Haneya also said the current U.S. President George Bush "is falling while Hamas castles are not."
The number of the crowds is estimated around 350,000, including women and children, flooding the Katiba square in southwest of Gaza city. "I don't see an end to these crowds but definitely Allah sees," Haneya said, adding that this reflects Hamas' support.
The United States and Israel lead an international campaign to isolate Hamas since it won parliamentary elections in 2006 against Fatah, the secular movement led by moderate President Mahmoud Abbas.
Haneya questioned the effect of Israeli sanctions that tightened on the Gaza Strip since June 2007 when Hamas routed pro-Abbas forces and seized security installations in the coastal territory.
"Hamas is deep-rooted like Palestine's mountains and our people are stronger under the siege and Hamas is more popular after the siege," he said.
In June, Egypt brokered a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel to ease the blockade in exchange for calmness, but the agreement was rocked last month with a resumption of violence.
Haneya did not present his movement's decision about the future of the ceasefire which will end on Dec. 19, but said that the factions "reached to a negative result of the deal because the siege remained in place, the aggression continued and the lull did not shift to the West Bank."
Meanwhile, Haneya reiterated that Hamas will not recognize Israel and added that "We will go for our brothers in the 1948 territories (Israel) instead of letting them come to us," responding to Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni who said the Arab residents of Israel should move to live in the Palestinian statehood once it is established.
Haneya also slammed U.S.-backed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), saying they were "ridiculous."
He reiterated that Hamas will not recognize Abbas as a president after his term ends on Jan. 9. "No legitimacy for extending the president's term," he said.
Haneya's statements reflected the deep power struggle between Hamas and Abbas' Fatah movement which is now dominant in the West Bank. Hamas plans to appoint speaker of its parliament Aziz al-Dewik, who is held by Israel, as Abbas' transitional successor until new elections are held.
Last month, Hamas thwarted an Egyptian effort to reconcile it with Fatah, but Haneya said that Hamas "will go tomorrow for the dialogue in Cairo when (the PNA) releases Hamas prisoners in the West Bank."