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July 14, 2014 Special Dispatch No. 5795

Hamas, Palestinian Authority Trade Accusations Over Israeli Operation In Gaza

July 14, 2014
Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 5795

The current Israeli operation in Gaza has generated considerable Palestinian solidarity with Hamas, but this did not prevent PLO and Fatah officials from criticizing the organization, especially Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud 'Abbas, who accused Hamas of "warmongering." There was also harsh criticism from columnists in the PA press, who stated that the firing of the rockets was pointless and that Hamas should unilaterally declare a ceasefire.

Hamas, in response, accused 'Abbas of disrespecting the blood of the martyrs, and said that the PA's foreign minister was also foreign minister to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Some PLO members also attacked 'Abbas; one of them predicted that the war would cost him his position.

The following are excerpts from these mutual accusations:

'Abbas: I Oppose The Warmongers On Both Sides

'Abbas told the Al-Mayadeen TV channel: "The most important thing in [this] war is saving lives. The [important] question is not who started it, but how to end it, because Israel has the military advantage, not us... The most important thing is to end the hostilities and go back to the understandings of 2012... Israel is attacking us, and we have nothing but the international law to defend ourselves with." 'Abbas also called Hamas' conditions for a ceasefire "unnecessary," and added: "The martyrs are cannon fodder for the warmongers, and I opposed these warmongers on both sides."[1]

A reliable source informed the SHFA news agency that Mahmoud 'Abbas had released a memo to all Palestinian embassies in Europe and the U.S. instructing them to clarify to international bodies that the missiles Hamas is launching constitute "a crime against humanity" and that "the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud 'Abbas vigorously opposes the use of missiles by Hamas or by any other Palestinian faction." The source noted that Abbas' guidelines included "a renouncement of all Palestinian factions that launch missiles against Israel and the need to hold them to account in the future for perpetrating crimes against humanity." SHFA claimed that the Palestinian representative to the UN Human Rights Council, Ibrahim Khreishi, had acted in the spirit of 'Abbas's instructions when he said in a press release that "the Palestinian rockets are a crime against humanity."[2]

Hamas: 'Abbas' Statements Are An Offense Against The Blood Of The Martyrs

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in response to 'Abbas's accusations: "'Abbas's statements about the resistance, and his description of the resistance as 'warmongering,' are an offense against the blood of the martyrs and serve positions that are hostile towards our people and the resistance. Hamas will impose its conditions and will not listen to any feeble positions."[3]

Criticism of 'Abbas was also voiced by Jordanian-Palestinian writer Yasser Al-Za'atra, who is close to the Muslim Brotherhood. He claimed that the PA is preventing the Palestinians from expressing solidarity with Gaza, and said: "This is a disgrace, and if it continues, it will encourage Netanyahu to complete his hostility in the hope of defeating Hamas... Isn't it a disgrace that 'Abbas said he had tried to convince Hamas to stop its military activity but Hamas refused? As though Hamas must wave a white flag in the face of its enemy."[4]

Hamas' criticism was directed not only at 'Abbas, but also at his foreign minister, Riyad Al-Maliki, after reports claimed that the latter had said that Israel had the right to defend itself. Hamas Political Bureau member Moussa Abu Marzouq said that Al-Maliki was "Netanyahu's foreign minister." Al-Maliki himself denied making these statements and called them lies.[5]

Some PLO officials joined Hamas' criticism of 'Abbas. Fatah member Hussam Khader, who is known for his criticism of the PA president, stated: "The war in Gaza will bring about the [moral] victory of the resistance and the [establishment of] a Palestinian state in Gaza, and will end 'Abbas's political career and cause him to leave [the presidency].[6] PLO member Jamal Zakout of the Palestinian Democratic Union, one of the leaders of the first intifada, urged 'Abbas: "Get rid of your advisors and leave for Gaza at once. Visit the wounded and the families of the martyrs, and give your home to a family that has lost its own home... Convey the Gazans' cry to the world, and [call for] a halt to the murderous hostility against the living and for lifting the siege."[7]

Criticism Of Hamas In PA Press

Fatah Official: The War Harms Us, Helps Only The Occupation

Fatah member Hafez Al-Barghouti, editor of the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, joined the criticism of Hamas: "We are tired of the vocal calls that have been made recently to make sacrifices for the homeland... slogans [uttered] by various factions which discard nationalism in favor of partisanism.

"What is happening is not [just] temporary damage, as some claim. It is permanent damage, which can be undone solely by reaching a national consensus over every political action or resistance action.

"The current war will not end Hamas' isolation and or provide Gaza with a horizon. Nobody will profit from it but the occupation. If the goal is to destroy the [Fatah-Hamas] reconciliation, it is indeed dying, and if the goal is to perpetuate the schism, this schism is [already] a reality. If Israel's goal is to destroy Hamas and minimize the PA, this goal is not within its reach. In the absence of a true [Palestinian] national unity over the means and supreme goals, we will continue to sacrifice blood and land in our small [internal] wars that fuel the large war that the occupation is waging against us."[8]

Al-Ayyam Columnist: Missiles Fired At Tel Aviv Will Not Open The Rafah Crossing

Akram 'Atallah, a columnist for the PA daily Al-Ayyam, expressed appreciation for Hamas' achievements, but advised the organization to hold its fire in order to preserve them and its power of deterrence: "It would be excellent if the resistance declared a unilateral ceasefire and indicated that it is the one who decides when [the conflict] begins and ends... The resistance will achieve presence if it knows when to stop. It knew when to start, but now it must refrain from going too far. Beware imprudence. Now that a national consensus government has been formed, the task of the resistance is not to lift the siege from Gaza, though it [the resistance] pushed for this. Nor is [the resistance] responsible for [the Gazans'] day-to-day problems, now that there is a government whose job it is [to handle them]. We have a government whose job is to work towards the lifting of the siege, which is no longer justifiable. [This government] is committed to past agreements, and the continuation of the siege violates these agreements. The Rafah crossing is waiting for understandings between the Palestinians and Egypt, not for missiles to be fired at Tel Aviv."[9]

Al-Ayyam Columnist: It Was Hamas That Started The War – And It Should Unilaterally Declare A Ceasefire

Hassan Al-Batal, a columnist for Al-Ayyam, likewise urged Hamas to initiate a ceasefire unilaterally: "The resistance factions must at least initiate a halt in the launching of missiles, so as to comply with the Israeli slogan of 'quiet in return for quiet.' Israel is likely to find itself in an uncomfortable situation and will be condemned if it continues the airstrikes on the Gaza Strip… Israel is waging a war of attrition against the resistance's missile capability, so it will not be able to launch missiles at Tel Aviv in the future…

"In the past, it was Israel that launched the two wars, in 2008 [i.e. Operation Cast Lead] and in 2012 [i.e. Operation Pillar of Defense]. But this war was launched by the resistance. Why shouldn't the resistance declare a ceasefire from a position of strength – that is, unilaterally – which can cause Israel embarrassment in the international arena if it continues to bomb Gaza?[10]

Endnotes:

[1] Amad.ps, July 11, 2014.

[2] A reliable source informed the SHFA news agency that Mahmoud 'Abbas had released a memo to all Palestinian embassies in Europe and the U.S. instructing them to clarify to international bodies that the missiles Hamas is launching constitute "a crime against humanity" and that "the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud 'Abbas vigorously opposes the use of missiles by Hamas or by any other Palestinian faction." The source noted that Abbas' guidelines included "a renouncement of all Palestinian factions that launch missiles against Israel and the need to hold them to account in the future for perpetrating crimes against humanity." SHFA claimed that Palestinian representative to the UN Human Rights Council Ibrahim Khreisheh had acted in the spirit of 'Abbas's instructions when he said in a press release that "the Palestinian rockets are a crime against humanity." Shfanews.net, July 13, 2014.

[3] Amad.ps, July 12, 2014.

[4] Felesteen.ps, July 12, 2014.

[5] Amad.ps, July 12, 2014.

[6] Palinfo.com, July 12, 2014.

[7] Amad.ps, July 11, 2014.

[8] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), July 13, 2014.

[9] Al-Ayyam (PA), July 13, 2014.

[10] Al-Ayyam (PA), July 14, 2014.

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