BEIRUT: The leader of Hamas in Lebanon emphasized Sunday that Palestinians in the country are not involved in any national conflict and seek to prevent sectarian strife at all costs. “We are keen to prevent the occurrence of any sectarian strife in Lebanon since any sectarian strife will not stop at Lebanon’s borders, but will harm everybody and will only serve the Zionist enemy,” the group’s leader Ali Baraka said in a meeting with Sidon MP Bahia Hariri and a Hamas delegation in the southern town of Majdalyoun.
The Hamas leader said the meeting Sunday came in the context of ongoing communication between both parties, whereby they discussed the overall situation and latest developments on the Palestinian and Lebanese fronts and in Sidon and the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp, as well as the need for cooperation so as to maintain safety in both areas.
Baraka added that Hamas would work with the National Palestinian and Islamic factions to control security in the Ain al-Hilweh and prevent the camp from being used to disrupt civil peace in Lebanon. He emphasized that Palestinians in the country would only be a factor of stability.
He also cautioned against “malicious rumors” which he said were attempts at straining the security situation in the Ain al-Hilweh camp, and expressed solidarity with the Lebanese Army as a body integral to maintaining stability in the country.
“Our hands are extended to all Lebanese security forces and to the Lebanese Army in order to prevent any renewed tension in the area, because we believe that Sidon’s security is the camp’s security, and that security and stability is in the Lebanese and Palestinian interests,” he said.
Baraka and Hariri also discussed the situation in Palestine. The Hamas official expressed his objection to negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli authorities resuming in light of continued Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and the Gaza blockade.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 22, 2013, on page 3.