The spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party accused al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri of “Zionism” following the latter’s scathing attack on Fatah and Abbas.
In an audio interview published Friday night on a Jihadi website, al-Zawahiri lashed out at Egyptian presidential candidate Abdel Fatah el-Sissi and US President Barack Obama, but dedicated special attention to the PA.
“Errors by Mahmoud Abbas don’t surprise me, for he is a traitor who sold Palestine,” Zawahiri said.
“I am surprised however by two groups: the first are those who carry out Islamic work but insist that this traitor is the legitimate president,” Zawahiri said, apparently alluding to Hamas. “And the other group is Fatah, which claims to be a national liberation movement but has become a movement which sells out its homeland and its citizens.”
Fatah spokesman Ahmad Assaf responded with a scornful critique of Zawahiri and Al-Qaeda, published as a press statement on his Facebook page Saturday.
“Ayman Zawairi’s statements … confirm once again this man’s involvement along with al-Qaeda in the Zionist project and scheming aimed at tearing apart the Arab and Islamic nations,” Assaf wrote.
“Since when has this hypocrite and his group cared about Palestinian cause? … we haven’t seen one action carried out by them against the Israeli occupation. What does this mean?”
Assaf proceeded to defend Palestinian negotiations with Israel as a form of confrontation.
“At a time when Palestinian [Authority] President Mahmoud Abbas is waging a ruthless diplomatic battle with the occupation state of Israel, withstanding threats and pressures from various sides … and despite the [difficult] Arab and Islamic conditions, Zawahiri appears before us announcing his clear involvement in the Zionist project, participating in the campaign of disinformation and pressure.”
On Sunday, Arab media reported that Abbas is contemplating disbanding the Palestinian Authority and its security agencies if peace talks fail following Israel’s refusal to freeze settlement construction and discuss the borders of the future Palestinian state.