GAZA CITY, 9 May 2013 - The prime minister of the Hamas-run government in the Gaza Strip granted influential Muslim cleric Yousef al-Qardawi Palestinian nationality and a diplomatic passport on Wednesday.
Al-Qaradawi led a delegation of 50 clerics from 14 countries and was greeted by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
Haniyeh, in a welcome address, said it was "an honor for us to receive the sheikh of the Arab Spring on the soil of Palestine."
The cleric said his delegation represented all Islamic parties in the region, and they came to support the people of Gaza.
"This land has never once been Jewish land. Palestine is for the Arab Islamic nation," al-Qaradawi said. “Palestine is an Arab and Muslim country despite all Israeli attempts.”
He added: “People of Gaza, you will achieve victory, and you will get all your rights.”
Ahead of the cleric's arrival, the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority said such visits were "harmful" to the Palestinian people.
"The Palestinian Authority's position has been clear; each visit of political significance which gives legitimacy to Hamas' rule in Gaza is harmful to the Palestinian people and their interests," PA minister of endowment Mahmoud al-Habbash said.
"Al-Qaradawi should have taken back the Fatwa he issued considering visits to Jerusalem by Muslims illegal according to the Islamic law because the holy city is under occupation," al-Habbash told Ma'an.