Abbas condemns Hamas head’s statements; Likud doesn’t buy it

Hatnua chair Livni congratulates PA president for taking stand against calls for Israel’s destruction; she’s ‘burying her head in the sand,’ PM’s party says

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas openly denounced anti-Israel statements made by Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal last week, pointing out that Hamas had agreed in principle to the two-state solution and thus to Israel’s right to exist.

The Turkish news agency Hürriyet on Thursday reported that at the end of a visit in Ankara, Abbas said he did not accept the idea that the State of Israel would never be recognized, including by Hamas.

“I don’t agree with Khaled Mashaal’s statement on the non-recognition of Israel because we, in fact, recognized it in 1993,” Abbas told reporters in English as he wrapped up his two-day visit. “A four-article agreement between [Fatah and Hamas] stipulates a two-state vision. And Mashaal approved of this agreement.”

Tzipi Livni, the head of the Hatnua party and Israel’s former foreign minister, called Abbas on Thursday, telling him that she appreciated his rejection of Mashaal’s comments about Israel. “It is important for the public to hear a message like this so they won’t lose hope of a [peace] agreement,” she said.

The Likud party chided both Abbas and Livni.

The PA leader “is playing a duplicitous game for his international political needs,” the party said in a statement. “What’s expected of [Abbas], who purports to be a partner for peace, is not to state the obvious about Israel’s right to exist. Rather, we expect him to condemn Mashaal’s calls for the murder of Israelis and the destruction of Israel, but these Abbas chose to ignore.”

Likud said that Livni was “quick to be drawn in by Abbas’s sweet talk” and maintains a “defeatist” attitude while “burying her head in the sand.”

On Saturday, during his first-ever visit to the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by Hamas, Mashaal said: “We are not giving up any inch of Palestine. It will remain Islamic and Arab for us and nobody else. Jihad and armed resistance is the only way.”

“We cannot recognize Israel’s legitimacy,” the Hamas leader added. “From the sea to the river, from north to south, we will not give up any part of Palestine — it is our country, our right and our homeland.”

The address was harshly condemned by Israeli leaders.

After Mashaal’s speech, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Abbas for expressing willingness to reconcile with Hamas, with which Abbas’s group Fatah had fallen out years ago. Hamas, Netanyahu said, had once again revealed its “true face.”

On Wednesday, Israel Radio reported that four European Union member states had opposed an official condemnation of Mashaal’s incitement-filled speech last weekend, leading to harsh responses from Israeli leaders that Europe was being one-sided.

Denmark, Finland, Portugal and Ireland reportedly pressured European foreign ministers to condemn Israel solely for its E1 settlement construction plan at a meeting of the body’s foreign council Monday.

In the end, the statement included a brief rebuke of Hamas’s call for Israel’s destruction, after an 11th-hour intervention by Germany and the Czech Republic, the report said.

Israeli leaders decried the EU statement, with Netanyahu saying that Europe’s lack of a strong condemnation of Hamas was a “deafening silence.”

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