President Mahmoud Abbas speaking at the leadership meeting in Ramallah. (WAFA Images / Usama Falah)
RAMALLAH, March 19, 2018 (WAFA) – President Mahmoud Abbas accused Hamas at the start of the leadership meeting in Ramallah on Monday of being responsible for the assassination attempt against Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and chief of intelligence Majid Faraj in Gaza last week, saying that he decided to take national, legal and financial measures to punish Hamas for its act.
President Abbas said he does not want to punish the Palestinian people, but he has to take action against Hamas, which rules Gaza and refuses to allow the Palestinian government to rule there.
"I have decided to take national, legal and financial measures to protect out national project," said the president. "We never thought of punishing any Palestinian citizen, not in the West Bank or Gaza. But we have to say where the wrong is and where the crime is. This situation is not acceptable."
He accused Hamas of sabotaging all efforts for reconciliation, saying that either the Palestinian government takes full charge of everything in Gaza, or the de facto authority remains fully responsible for it.
"We did all we can to make the reconciliation a success, but, unfortunately, the result for empowering the government was zero. We have been working hard for six months and got nothing, not the government, not the crossings, not security, nothing," he said. "It‘s all hypocrisy. They don‘t want reconciliation," he added.
"There aren‘t two sides to the division, rather only one side that is consolidating it and enforces an illegal de facto situation," said Abbas, adding that the outcome of the reconciliation talks is the attempt to assassinate Hamdallah and Faraj.
He said he will not wait for Hamas‘ investigation into the assassination attempt "because we know that they, Hamas, are behind it," adding that assassinations are not new to Hamas, whose history is full of similar acts, warning that the attempt will not go without reaction.
Abbas said Hamas and US President Donald Trump are cooperating in destroying the Palestinian national project of independence because they want a state in Gaza.
He said the US supports the separation between the West Bank and Gaza because it does not want a Palestinian state. He said Trump‘s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel‘s capital and cut aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, UNRWA, aim at destroying Palestinian aspirations for independence and statehood.
He lashed out at the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, saying he is a settler who supports settlements when he said that Israel was building in its territory and not in occupied areas.
"He‘s a settler, so what can we expect from him," said Abbas describing Friedman.
He said the leadership meeting was going to discuss all these issues and decide on the next moves.