One day after Hamas vowed to continue its armed struggle against Israel despite joining a unity pact with Fatah, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told a group of Israeli peace activists that security cooperation with Israel would persist regardless of differences with the Israeli government.
“Security coordination is sacred and will continue whether we agree or disagree on policy,” Abbas told some 300 visiting activists during a meeting at the presidential compound in Ramallah, according to the Ma’an news agency.
Abbas then urged the Israeli government to return to the negotiating table, repeating conditions he had voiced in a meeting with Israeli journalists on April 22, one day before his Fatah movement ratified a reconciliation deal with rival Hamas in Gaza. Abbas insisted that for negotiations to proceed, Israel would have to release a fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners and freeze settlement construction for three months while the issue of borders was discussed.
“I assure you that there is absolutely no other way to achieve peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people but through peaceful negotiations,” Abbas said. “Both of us have tried everything in the past and paid a heavy price. We have realized that there is no way but peace.”
Abbas was referring to past attacks by Palestinian factions against Israeli soldiers and civilians, lauded by Hamas as recently as Tuesday as the preferable course of action in dealing with the Jewish state.
During a meeting with Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Qatar last week, Hamas’s political bureau chief, Khaled Mashaal, said that resistance for Hamas is “as genuine as Palestine and its long long history of struggle. It will continue [militarily engaging Israel] and will not stop until the liberation of Palestine.”
Azzam Al-Ahmad, Abbas’s representative to talks with Hamas, told Ma’an that security issues were not discussed between the two movements ahead of the agreement, which focused primarily on procedural issues pertaining to the upcoming elections and the future overhaul of the PLO.