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Hamas Denies Jordan Claim of Weapons Smuggling


Hamas officials are denying allegations that their militants have smuggled weapons into Jordan. The surprise charges have prompted Jordan to cancel a visit by the Palestinian foreign minister.

Hamas officials deny Jordanian allegations that Hamas members have smuggled weapons into the Kingdom.

Hamas Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said his group has no intention of interfering in other countries, insisting that its only battle is against Israeli occupation.

Jordanian officials say they seized a cache of missiles, explosives and automatic weapons smuggled into their country by Hamas militants. Jordan subsequently canceled a visit to the country by Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar.

Hamas officials have denounced that decision and the Director-General of the Hamas-led Palestinian government, Mohammed Awad says it comes as a total surprise.

Speaking on Palestinian radio, Awad said the government is shocked by the Jordanian allegations and decision to cancel the visit. He said the government wants good relations with all Arab countries, especially neighboring Jordan and Egypt. He called for backing away from heated rhetoric and for calming down.

Jordan is one of two Arab nations to have signed a peace treaty with Israel. The kingdom keeps a wary eye on its own Islamic groups as well as on any potential influence from Islamists outside.

The Jordanian allegations and Amman's decision to cancel the Zahar visit comes as yet another blow to an increasingly isolated Hamas-led government that is facing financial collapse and growing internal unrest, as well as external pressure.

Israel, the United States and the European Union have labeled Hamas a terrorist organization and have cut off direct aid until it renounces violence and recognizes Israel. Israel has halted the transfer of tax and customs duties it collects on behalf of the Palestinians.

Hamas has refused to meet those demands and, although some Hamas officials continue to hint at a readiness for compromise, the organization's defense of Monday's suicide bomb attack in Tel Aviv has brought it only more harsh criticism.

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