'Nakba Day' protests: What regional leaders said

Protests erupted on Israel’s borders and throughout East Jerusalem and the West Bank on Sunday as Palestinians marked the 63rd anniversary of Israel’s independence, which they refer to as the “nakba,” or catastrophe. Here is a roundup of notable statements:

Ismail Haniyeh, leader of Hamas in Gaza

From the Jerusalem Post:

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said in a speech marking “Nakba Day” that the Palestinians would never give up the ‘right of return.’

Haniyeh said that [antigovernment protests sweeping the Arab world] would ‘lead to the collapse of the Zionist project in Palestine and victory for the program of the nation’ ...

He said that the ‘revolutions’ in the Arab world would have a positive impact on the Palestinians and a negative effect on the ‘Zionist entity.’ He also urged the Arabs and Muslims to provide the Palestinians with financial and military aid.

The Hamas leader reiterated his movement’s opposition to recognizing Israel’s right to exist in spite of the reconciliation agreement with Fatah.

‘Victory is coming and so is the state,” he declared. “The refugees will return and occupation will end.’”

From Al Ahram:

"’We firmly condemn this new Zionist crime against our people who were demonstrating peacefully,’ the group, which controls the Gaza Strip and whose leader Khaled Meshaal is based in Damascus, said in a statement.

‘We call on the international community to assume its responsibility in light of the continuous Zionist crimes against our people,’ it said, adding that Sunday's clashes marked a new chapter in the struggle against the ‘Zionist occupation.’”

‘We say to the entire world that the return of the Palestinian refugees to their homeland will remain a central part of the Palestinian question,’ the statement said.”

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