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Jordan Islamists seek new start with Hamas

AMMAN, Jordan, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood Movement Saturday urged the Jordanian government to start a new chapter in its relations with the Palestinian Hamas group.

Head of the powerful movement, Abdul Majid Thneibat, said Hamas' landslide victory in the Palestinian legislative elections calls for the Jordanian government to "look differently at Hamas since it is now in legitimate power and has its influence in Palestine."

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Predicting that Hamas' victory would improve Jordanian-Palestinian ties, Thneibat called on the Jordanian government to overcome differences of the past and "open a new chapter with Hamas, based on common Jordanian-Palestinian interests and the establishment of a future Palestinian state."

Jordan cracked down on Hamas members in the kingdom in 1999, closed its offices and expelled four of its leaders who hold Jordanian citizenships, including Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mishaal.

Although the expulsion was criticized as illegal since the Jordanian constitution bans the deportation of Jordanian citizens, the government has refused to allow them back into the country unless they abandoned their membership in Hamas because it is a non-Jordanian group.

Ibrahim Ghosheh, who was the Hamas spokesman at the time, returned to the Jordanian capital more than a year later only after he vowed not to speak on behalf of the Palestinian Islamic group.

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Thneibat, whose organization tried to mediate between the government and Hamas, said Jordan's ties with the Palestinian group "does not need mediation from anyone because their relations are brotherly."

Government officials said Jordan, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, respects the choices of the Palestinian people, but that Amman will wait for the formation of the new Palestinian government to see its effect on the future of the Palestinian people and the peace process.

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