Cease-Fire Heightens Islamist Rhetoric

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- The U.S.-sponsored cease-fire between Hamas and Israel seems to have bolstered ties between Hamas and its Iranian sponsor -- and with Egypt, under Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

Hamas, the Palestinian faction controlling the Gaza Strip, admitted that Iran supplied weapons used against Israel, and Hamas is considered the Palestinian branch of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood - the background from which Morsi comes.

Gaza-based terror chief Ismail Haniyeh and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke of the Hamas "victory" by phone over the weekend, Iran's semi-official FARS news agency reported.

"Zionists have reached the dead point and have no other alternative but officially recognizing and bowing to the absolute right of the Palestinian nation," Ahmadinejad told Haniyeh, according to FARS. "We hope that in light of endeavors and efforts of the faithful and the reformers, the noble Qods [Islam's name for Jerusalem] will be liberated and justice would govern over whole the universe."

Haniyeh reportedly thanked the "great Iranian government" and said they owed their resistance against the "Zionists regime" to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

"We and the resistance side of the Palestinian people, adhering to their principles and never being ready to withdraw our principled stances and overlook al-Aksa mosque," Haniyeh said, according to the report. (Al-Aksa mosque is on Jerusalem's Temple Mount and is used as a rallying cry against Israel for Muslims around the world.)

In an interview in Cairo with Asharq al-Awsat, senior Hamas member Mahmoud al-Zahar praised the new Muslim Brotherhood-controlled government in Egypt.

"We expected this position from the new Egypt president, government and people [that] stand firmly behind the Palestinian people," the Gaza strongman said. "The period in which the enemy attacked us is over and we are now in the stage where we are attacking them," calling it a period of "bloodshed and the gun" and saying "everything that has been pulled down will be rebuilt in a liberated Jerusalem."

"I will remain here on Palestinian land in the forefront of the Palestinian people until victory or death," al-Zahar concluded.

A few days after the cease-fire, Egypt announced the resumption of reconciliation talks between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to take place after P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas returns from the UN General Assembly bid Thursday, the P.A.'s official news agency Ma'an reported.

One P.A. official said Israel's eight-day military operation in Gaza united Hamas and Fatah as well as Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and they "are now calling for unity in their political factions."

Meanwhile, in Egypt itself, a day after President Obama praised Morsi for his key role in ending Israel's eight-day military operation in the Gaza Strip, the Egyptian president announced a series of decrees boosting his power and legal immunity, the London-based Guardian reported.

"Morsi was elected a president," Abdel-Halim Qandil, editor of as-Swat newspaper, told al-Jazeera TV, according to the report.

Mohammed ElBaradei tweeted, "Morsi today usurped all state powers and appointed himself Egypt's new pharaoh," calling it "a major blow to the revolution that could have dire consequences."

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