Hamas leader vows to continue "liberation of Palestine" struggle

Hamas group Khalid MashaalAmman  - The Politburo chief of the radical Hamas group Khalid Mashaal on Sunday pledged that his faction would continue struggle for the "liberation of Palestine."

Mashaal was speaking to an audience in a tent set up in the neighbourhood of Sweileh, where he received condolences on the death of his father, Abdul Rahim Mashaal, who was buried on Saturday.

He vowed to work to end the feuds with Hamas' rival, Fatah, and to cooperate with any effort that seeks to achieve Palestinian reconciliation, be it Arab or Islamic, because "internal Palestinian divisions reflect an abnormal state of affairs."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was represented at the funeral by the speaker of the Palestine National Council, Salim Zaanoun.

Mashaal, who was deported from Jordan 10 years ago after the closure of Hamas offices in Amman in 1999, assured the Jordanian government that his group had no aim of interfering in Jordan's domestic affairs.

"We assure leaders of Jordan that Hamas will only do what is in Jordan's interests because we do understand the international and regional equations," he said.

The Hamas leader pledged to foil any Israeli or US scheme that may seek "to impose solutions at the expense of Jordan," including the alternative homeland.

This was an apparent reference to a recent proposal by an Israeli Knesset member who suggested the establishment of a homeland for Palestinians in Jordan.

Mashaal praised a recent statement by Jordan's King Abdullah II who pledged to stand by the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes which they fled after Israeli's establishment in 1948.

The Hamas leader, who is based in Damascus, travelled to Amman on Saturday to attend the funeral of his father after King Abdullah allowed his entry to Jordan for the first time in a decade to attend the burial of his father and receive condolences.

The permission was for "purely humanitarian considerations" and had no political connotations, according to an official statement.

Mashaal was not expected to meet with any Jordanian official before leaving later Sunday. But those paying their respects included Jordan's Chief Justice Ahmad Hlayel, leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, dignitaries, prominent Jordanian politicians and tribal leaders.

Also offering condolences to Mashaal were a delegation representing the Islamic movement in Syria and head of Iraq's Scholars Association, Hareth al-Dhari.  dpa