Palestinians: Mixed Reactions to bin Laden's Death

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JERUSALEM, Israel - While Americans cheered the death of arch-terrorist Osama bin Laden, reactions to Sunday's assassination of the al-Qaeda chief were varied among Palestinians in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and the Gaza Strip.

Former Palestinian National Authority prime minister and Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh condemned the assassination of an "Arab holy warrior."

"We condemn the assassination and the killing of an Arab holy warrior. We ask Allah to offer him mercy with the true believers and the martyrs," Haniyeh told reporters in the Gaza Strip.

"We regard this as a continuation of the American policy based on oppression and the shedding of Muslim and Arab blood," he said.

Haniyeh served as prime minister in the last P.A. unity government, which lasted three months. In June 2007, following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip, P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas dissolved the coalition and formed an emergency government, which still exists today. Abbas appointed Salam Fayyad to replace Haniyeh as prime minister.

Just last week, Hamas, which calls for the destruction of Israel, and the Palestinian Authority announced they had reached a new agreement to form a unity government, throwing into question the possibility of reviving any negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

P.A. spokesman Ghassan Khatib had a slightly different response to bin Laden's death.

"Getting rid of bin Laden is good for the cause of peace worldwide, but what counts is to overcome the discourse and the methods -- the violent methods -- that were created and encouraged by bin Laden and others in the world," Khatib said.

Following the September 11 terror attack on New York's World Trade Center, Israeli Arabs in east Jerusalem neighborhoods were filmed celebrating in the streets, a phenomenon that was even more widespread among residents of Gaza.

Meanwhile, Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader Issam al-Aryan responded to bin Laden's death by calling on President Barack Obama to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Al-Aryan said the uprisings in the Middle East "are proof that democracy has its place in the region and it does not require foreign occupation."

"It's time the world understood that there is no connection between violence and Islam," al-Aryan said. "Any connection between them is false and based on the media," he said.

Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. While many experts agree that all Muslims are not terrorists, almost all terror attacks are carried out by Muslims.

The Hamas charter labels all of Israel a waqf -- an "inalienable religious endowment" -- and calls for jihad ("holy" war) to eliminate Jews from Islamic holy land. 

The stated goal of the Muslim Brotherhood, with branches in more than 100 countries worldwide, is global domination and the establishment of Islamic sharia law worldwide. 

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AP and Reuters contributed to this report.

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