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Hamas and other factions condemn Abbas speech

March 20, 2018 at 9:16 am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership at his compound in the West Bank [Issam Rimawi/Apaimages]

Almost all of the Palestinian factions, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), have criticised a speech by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in which he pledged more punitive measures against Gaza and its Palestinian residents.

Abbas told the PLO Executive Committee meeting on Monday that he has decided to take “national, legal and economic measures” against the Gaza Strip. He claimed that the measures against Gaza were decided “for the protection of the national project and the higher Palestinian interests.” At the same time, Abbas accused Hamas of carrying out the assassination attempt against PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Gaza last Tuesday.

In a remarkable distortion of reality, Abbas then claimed that Hamas carried out a “coup” in 2007, and said that this was “not justified”. At the time, Hamas was the democratically-elected government of the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but Abbas had rejected the 2006 election results and seized control of the PA in Ramallah. A group within Fatah, the movement headed by Abbas, was funded by Israel and the US to overthrow the Hamas government in Gaza. That coup attempt failed, and Fatah security forces were expelled from Gaza in bitter street fighting.

Hamas condemned in the strongest possible terms Abbas’s speech in Ramallah yesterday as “irresponsible”. The Islamic Resistance Movement said that it was “surprised at Abbas’s belligerent remarks, which burn bridges, intensify the rift and support Donald Trump’s plan to liquidate the Palestinian national cause.” It accused Abbas of “working to push the Palestinians in Gaza to bend down [in submission] and trying to undermine their steadfastness at a very dangerous and historic moment.”

Read: Palestine’s Abbas to punish officials criticising Arab leaders

Although Abbas criticised the US President’s plans in the Middle East and accused US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman of being more of a settler than the settlers themselves — and called him “a son of bitch” in the process — Hamas said that he is not merely targeting the Islamic movement, but is also undermining the chances to promote the national programme and the efforts to achieve Palestinian unity. “He is reinforcing the plans to separate the West Bank from the Gaza Strip.” This will, it added, help to facilitate the US President’s “deal of the century”.

“These remarks and decisions,” said Hamas, “are seen as a coup against all the reconciliation deals and a demolition of the Egyptian role [as mediator].” The movement called for urgent intervention by all Palestinians and factions, as well as international players, to save the national programme and Palestinian unity and to prevent a disaster before it happens.

The Hamas statement also addressed PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah’s comments following last week’s assassination attempt in Gaza, which were repeated by Abbas in his Ramallah speech. According to the Islamic movement, the attempt to blame Hamas for the attack even before a full investigation has been carried out is an attempt to pervert the course of justice.

In order to sort out the Palestinian issues, Hamas said that general elections must be called, including presidential, parliamentary and National Council polls, to let the Palestinians choose a leadership which is able to achieve unity and bear the responsibility of protecting the people’s interests.

Islamic Jihad condemned the PA President’s remarks by insisting that they “threaten the unity of the Palestinian people and give more support for the Israeli occupation and siege of the Gaza Strip.”