Abbas says Hamas actions ‘don’t represent Palestinians,’ then seems to backtrack

Palestinian Authority president’s comment on terror group’s actions is removed from official news agency report

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas looking on as he receives Palestinian athletes in Ramallah in the West Bank on August 4, 2023. (Wissam Khalifa/PPO/AFP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas looking on as he receives Palestinian athletes in Ramallah in the West Bank on August 4, 2023. (Wissam Khalifa/PPO/AFP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas criticized Hamas on Sunday but then seemingly walked the comment back, when it was removed from a report in the PA’s mouthpiece news agency WAFA.

A report in WAFA initially said that Abbas told Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro that Hamas’s policies and actions “do not represent the Palestinian people,” and the Palestine Liberation Organization is the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

Later, that section was removed so that Hamas was no longer mentioned in the statement, which now says only that the PLO is “the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and not the policies of any other organization.”

Abbas also called for the release of “prisoners and detainees” by both sides and reiterated his claim that the displacement of Gazans would constitute a “second Nakba.”

The Nakba, or “catastrophe,” refers to some 760,000 Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes during Israel’s 1948 War of Independence.

Abbas’s Fatah movement, which controls the PLO and Palestinian Authority ruling over the West Bank, has had a tense relationship with Hamas since the latter violently seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 and removed all Fatah officials from the coastal enclave, after Israel unilaterally withdrew in 2005 from the entire Strip to the pre-1967 lines.

An IDF soldier stands amid destruction caused by Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, near the Gaza border, October 15, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

On Saturday, US President Joe Biden spoke with Abbas. According to a US readout of the call, Abbas briefed the US president on efforts to bring aid to Palestinian people, particularly in Gaza.

Biden reiterated to Abbas that “Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and self-determination,” according to the US readout.

According to WAFA, Abbas stressed to Biden “the necessity of stopping all attacks and respecting international humanitarian law” in Gaza.

Abbas also called for allowing “humanitarian corridors” from Gaza to deliver water, electricity, fuel and medical supplies.

Palestinians flee to the southern Gaza Strip after the Israeli army issued an evacuation warning to residents of northern Gaza on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

Biden has spoken with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at least five times since Hamas launched a murderous attack on the south of Israel last Saturday, in which its terrorists killed some 1,300 people, mostly civilians, including children and the elderly, and kidnapped 150-200 and took them to the Gaza Strip as hostages.

The Biden administration has not publicly urged Israel to restrain its response as it pledged to eradicate Hamas, but has emphasized the country’s commitment to following the rules of war.

The US and international community have also raised concern about the number of civilians at risk and the potential ramifications of a prolonged war. Israel has urged northern Gaza residents to move south for safety as it prepares for a ground invasion, while Hamas ordered them to remain in their homes and allegedly prevented them from evacuating.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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