JERUSALEM—In a scathing criticism of Hamas, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ridiculed the organization’s claims of victory in the recent confrontation with Israel and accused it over the weekend of executing 120 Gaza residents for breaching a curfew during the war, an allegation heretofore not heard publicly.
Referring to Hamas’ boast at the end of the 50-day war that it was “allowing Israelis to return to their homes,” he noted that 400,000 Gazans had been left homeless by the war. “Who will return Gaza’s residents to their homes,” he asked sarcastically. Although 4,000 rockets had been fired into Israel, he noted, only three persons had been killed.
He asked how Hamas could have been surprised by Israel’s military response after having abducted and murdered three Israeli teenagers and then firing rockets into Israel.
Abbas has previously condemned Hamas for publicly executing alleged informers for Israel during the war (the numbers given range from 27 to 38 executions) without trial. In a meeting with journalists in Cairo Saturday night, he said “Hamas also conducted atrocities at the war’s end when it executed 120 people without trial because they breached the curfew.”
The Palestinian Authority signed an agreement with Hamas several months ago to form a national unity “technocratic” government that would end seven years of rival Palestinian governments in the West Bank and Gaza. However, Abbas warned in his Cairo talk that the agreement will not be implemented unless Hamas changes its basic positions. “If Hamas won’t accept a Palestinian state with one government, one law and one armed force there won’t be any partnership between us,” he declared.
Abbas said that the Palestinian Authority alone must be responsible for decisions on peace or war, and that Hamas cannot make such decisions unilaterally. In his recent meeting with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Qatar, he said, the latter had said “there would be no cease fire agreement with Israel without my agreement.”
Abbas’ unusually strong tone comes at a time when polls show the Palestinian public strongly favoring Hamas for taking on Israel in war. A poll last Thursday shows that former Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh would get 61 percent of the vote in the West Bank, even though it is controlled by Abbas’ Palestinian Authority, with Abbas himself garnering only 32 percent.
However, Hamas is at present heavily dependent on Abbas since the international community—and particularly major Arab countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia—would refuse to channel funds for Gaza’s reconstruction through Hamas, only through the Palestinian Authority.