Speaking at a rally in the Tunisian capital of Tunis, Haniyeh urged Arab Spring revolutionaries to fight for an independent Palestine. AFP reported that he received an ovation from a crowd of some 5,000 men, women and children, who gathered in a stadium waving PLO, Tunisian and Hamas flags.
“Israel no longer has allies in Egypt and in Tunisia, we are saying to the Zionist enemies that times have changed and that the time of the Arab Spring, the time of the revolution, of dignity and of pride has arrived,” Haniyeh was quoted as having said.
He added, “We promise you that we will not cede a single part of Palestine, we will not cede Jerusalem, we will continue to fight and we will not lay down our arms.”
Haniyeh also urged “the people of the revolution to fight the army of Al-Quds. To Tunisia we say: ‘It is us today who are going to build the new Middle East.’”
He insisted that Hamas “will not recognize Israel”, as the crowd chanted, “Death to Israel”, “The Tunisian revolution supports Palestine”, and “The army of Mohammed is back,” said the report.
Haniyeh’s visit in Tunisia is part of his first official regional tour since the Hamas terror group violently took power of Gaza in 2007. He has also visited Egypt, Sudan and Turkey and will next travel to Qatar and Bahrain.
On Thursday, as he arrived in the country and met its new moderate Islamist prime minister, Hamadi Jebali, Haniyeh said support for “Palestine” should be a “religious and nationalist commitment” for Arabs.
During his visit to Sudan, he also reiterated that his organization will never recognize Israel and will never give up on Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, AFP reported that Jews in Tunisia asked the government earlier Sunday to take steps to avoid a repeat of anti-Semitic slogans chanted during the Hamas leader’s visit.
“No Tunisian should be insulted, and the government must take measures to ensure this incident is never repeated,” Peres Trabelsi, a representative of Tunisia’s Jewish population, told AFP.
He added, “There are no Zionists in Tunisia and we don’t want to be mixed into the problems of the Middle East. Tunisia is our country.”
Tunisia’s newly elected president recently called the country’s Jewish population to return to his country.
President Moncef Marzouki said that Tunisia’s Jews are full-fledged citizens and those who had left the country were welcome to return.
Meanwhile, when asked about the anti-Semitic slogans chanted during his speech in Tunis, Haniyeh told AFP: “We are not against the Jews because they are Jews. Our problem is with those who occupy the land of Palestine. The Jews are all over the world and Hamas is not targeting them.”