In a scathing speech to the PLO Central Council on June 20, 2007, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas harshly condemned the brutal actions of Hamas during its takeover of Gaza, and accused the Hamas leadership of plotting to assassinate him. Ruling out any dialogue with Hamas, he called to restore the situation that had existed before the coup. He also declared that his main objective was to prevent the civil war from spreading to the West Bank, and called to launch final-status negotiations with Israel.
The following are the main points of his speech:
Hamas has Desecrated our National Symbols
"The Palestinian flag was trampled today under the feet of [those] who regard the Palestinian national project – whose banner we have been carrying generation after generation – as opposed to their [own] project of darkness. They have replaced [the Palestinian flag] with their own flag, which is a flag of division, detached from our people's history, its struggle and its sacrifice. Next, they persistently set out to desecrate each and every emblem of our national struggle, even in the home of our [late] leader, the martyr Yasser Arafat, and [in the home of Fatah founder] Abu Jihad. In central Gaza, they threw down the statue of the unknown soldier pointing towards Jerusalem – [a monument] that symbolizes the sacrifice of [our] martyrs, the legacy of the Palestinian fighters, and the unity of Palestinian, Egyptian, and Arab blood."
Hamas Plans to Establish Emirate of Religious Fanaticism
"[Hamas] formulated a plan to split Gaza from the West Bank and to establish an emirate, or a mini-state of one color controlled by a single group of extremists and religious fanatics. [In order to realize] its plan, it made military and political preparations by forming armed militias, controlled exclusively by [Hamas], which were trained to take over the PA in our beloved Gaza Strip... [Meanwhile, Hamas] continued its assassinations of the field commanders and leaders of the security apparatuses and of the Fatah movement in Gaza. We witnessed murders and executions unprecedented in our entire history, based on accusations of apostasy and treason, on the uprooting [of people], on incitement to hatred, and on agitation of raw impulses and emotions."
Crimes Perpetrated By Hamas
"The putschists attacked the headquarters of the National Security [Forces], General Intelligence, the Preventive Security [apparatus], and the Presidential Guard, and perpetrated horrors that are totally alien to our [Palestinian] heritage and tradition – murdering, executing people on the street, throwing fighters from tall buildings, and looting security headquarters, public facilities and Christian houses of worship.
"[Indeed,] even the churches were not spared. One of the oldest churches in Palestine, which stood long before our arrival [in the region], was looted and set on fire. There are Christians among us, and they are our brothers, and now we discover that [according to Hamas] they are enemies and must leave [Palestine]?!... This is a mark of shame on the Palestinian people, on those who perpetrated these [crimes], on the putschists and murderers. [They attacked] the homes of hundreds of Palestinian Authority civil servants, [who are] peaceful citizens as well as symbols of our national sovereignty like the presidential headquarters, which was taken over by hooligans who destroyed and looted it..."
No Dialogue with the Murderers
"There can be no dialogue with these murderers and putschists, and in our entire history, I cannot think of another force or group [of Palestinians] who murdered their own people, [looted] homes and property, and desecrated our national symbols, like the putschists in Gaza have done during this black week. To what end did they do this, and in the name of what religion? [It cannot have been] in the name of religion, for religion has nothing to do with acts such as these. Islam calls for tolerance and liberty. This is not Islam; it is alien to [the spirit of] Islam... The only purpose of the coup was to realize the sick and reckless fantasy of establishing an emirate of darkness and backwardness that will control, with fire and with an iron [fist], the lives, opinions and future of the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza...
"We have reached a new juncture, and there is no point in calling for dialogue as in the past. We must quell the putsch, in all its forms and manifestations, including by dismantling the Executive Force, which carried it out, and which was pronounced illegal by presidential decree. The Hamas leadership must apologize to the Palestinian people and to the PLO for the blood-soaked putsch it has perpetrated, and must hand over all PLO facilities and headquarters to the new legitimate government of united Palestine. It must obey the law and the decisions [of this new government, and stop] the destruction, crimes, assassinations, executions, looting, robbery, and other violations that have been carried out and are still being carried out in the Gaza Strip...
"We are not hostile to anyone, nor do we exclude or distance anyone – but [Hamas] has betrayed the trust [placed in it] and staged a putsch against the legitimate [government]. They are not worthy [partners] for dialogue. There will be no dialogue with them under any circumstances..."
The Conflict Should Not Be Described as a Struggle Between Fatah and Hamas
"Whoever tries to distort and simplify matters by describing this conflict as a struggle between Fatah and Hamas is wrong. This is a conflict between the national project and the project of the militias; between the project of the single homeland and the project of an Emirate or an ostensible mini-state; between a project that attempts to impose its conditions by force and to establish its closed and private regime, and the project that has embraced democracy, dialogue, and national partnership in resolving conflicts. [This is a conflict] between those who take [the path of] assassinations, murder, killings, and plots in order to achieve their sectarian goals, and those who stand for the law and for the defense of the unity of the homeland and the people."
The Hamas Leadership Tried to Assassinate Me
"One month ago, I learned that the Hamas movement had planted a bomb on Salah Al-Din Street, [meant] to explode as I passed by. The information was definite, and came from the security services, but it did not include the precise location [of the bomb]… I insisted on going to Gaza, and there I received a videotape from an individual in the Hamas movement. In the video I saw six people – with their faces uncovered and wearing Hamas symbols – dragging a 250-kilogram bomb. They placed it underground, and one of them said: 'This is for the Israelis; we'll keep it in reserve.' They went on digging until they had [placed] three [bombs]. Some of them said: 'This one [i.e. the first bomb] is for Abu Mazen, this one [i.e. the second] is for Abu Mazen, and this one [i.e. the third] is [also] for Abu Mazen; the next one will be for the Preventive Security [Forces]'. [The video had] picture and sound. These people are known – their names and their faces are known. Whoever wants to see the video [can see it].
"I sent [the video] to [Hamas leader] Khaled Mash'al in Damascus. He immediately denied [the accusation], before [even] viewing [the film]. [But] I was certain of all of this, since the messenger who brought me the video said that they had sent it to Khaled Mash'al so that he could give them the go time – when to light the fuse, or when [to set off] the bomb... I sent [the video] to all the Arab countries and to other countries [as well], so that they could see the extent of the crimes of this dark movement, this putschist [movement] that accuses others of apostasy."
The Goal is to Prevent Civil War in the West Bank
"Our main goal is to prevent the civil war [from Gaza] from spreading to the West Bank; to carry out [our] security plans; to [put] an end to the era of the militias, so that there will be [just] one weapon in the field – the legitimate weapon of the Palestinian Authority; and to stop and prevent all infractions by any side. [Our goal] is to treat the citizens on the basis of respect for the law, and not to settle scores with anyone for belonging to [a certain] group, or for [holding certain] opinions…
"The schools, colleges, and universities will become centers of study and enlightenment, rather than centers of ignorance, darkness, and the propagation of an ideology of hatred that destroys the people's unity and the social fabric. Likewise, the mosques should be supported and developed such that they will remain centers of worship for the glorification of Allah, be He praised and exalted, and not centers of political propaganda that are exploited for the good of a certain group or a certain element and serve as weapons stockpiles and interrogation centers…
"The PLO Central Council is called upon to remain permanently convened, so that it can take part in dealing with the coup and in expelling [its perpetrators] from all circles of the Palestinian people. Likewise, the Council is called upon to support the resolutions of the PA – especially in the area of dealing with the coup – and to prevent [Hamas] from achieving its goals of dividing the homeland's unity. The new government should be supported. All of the PLO institutions and Palestinian organizations in the homeland and abroad [should] give the government [their] full trust and support as well as national, popular, and legal backing…"
Launch Final-Status Negotiations
"We call today to launch final-status negotiations, and we believe that current conditions do not at all prevent the opening of negotiations in the context of an international peace conference. As for international protection [in the Palestinian territories], and the arrival of international forces and observers, this is a subject for internal discussion, in all its aspects: political, judicial, and the degree to which this serves the national interest…"
 Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), June 21, 2007.
 See The MEMRIblog, June 21, 2007, "Footage of Purported Planning of Hamas Assassination Plot Against Mahmoud Abbas," http://www.thememriblog.org/blog_personal/en/1951.htm .