Nidal Al-Mughrabi
October 16, 2008 - 8:00pm

The leader of the Palestinian Islamic group Hamas said on Friday that the global financial meltdown was God's way of punishing the United States for its support of Israel and its occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We see it as God's punishment for the criminals (U.S. and its Western allies). Nothing is more unjust than occupying an Islamic state. Nothing is more unjust than keeping the Palestinian people under occupation for over 60 years," Ismail Haniyeh told worshippers before Friday prayers in the Gaza Strip.

A financial crisis has hit markets across the world, forcing governments to mount bank bail-outs and fanning fears of recession, especially in the West.

Haniyeh's Islamist group is shunned by Israel and the United States for refusing to renounce violence and recognise interim Israeli-Palestinian agreements after it won a parliamentary election two years ago.

Following Hamas's election victory, Israel imposed an economic blockade on Gaza, which Hamas seized last year after routing Fatah forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"They deprived our people of money and now God has deprived them of money. They besieged our people and now they are besieged by the punishment of God," Haniyeh said.

Egypt is hosting a summit on Nov. 9 to try to heal the schism between Hamas and Fatah and forge consensus among the over thirteen factions that make up the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) in preparation for new elections.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017