Hamas PM blasts Palestinian leader

Share with others:

Print Email Read Later

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- The prime minister of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip criticized the Palestinian president Friday for comments given to Israeli media, alleging that they contradict longtime Palestinian territorial demands.

Ismail Haniyeh said Friday that Mahmoud Abbas' remarks, aired on Israel's Channel 2, were "extremely dangerous."

Mr. Abbas, who was speaking about borders of a future Palestinian state, said the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem are Palestine -- and the rest is Israel. He said that while he would like to see his birthplace -- Safed, now a town in northern Israel -- he doesn't want to live there.

"I am a refugee, but I am living in Ramallah. I believe that the West Bank and Gaza are Palestine. And the other parts are Israel," Mr. Abbas said. "I want to see Safed. It is my right to see it, but not to live there."

Palestinian officials did not return calls seeking comment. But Mr. Abbas' remarks broadly reflect the official Palestinian position of reaching an agreement in which refugees would receive compensation but few of them would be allowed to return to their former land.

Gaza's Islamic militant Hamas movement, along with many other Palestinians, said Mr. Abbas' remarks suggested that millions of refugees and their descendants would not return to the places they fled in wars with Israel.

"It is not possible for any person, regardless of who he is ... to give up a hand's width of this Palestinian land, or to give up the right of return to our homes from which we were forced out," Hamas' Mr. Haniyeh said.

The fate of refugees forced to flee their homes in the wake of Israel's creation in 1948 is one of the most emotional issues at the heart of Israel-Palestinian conflict. The issue has been an ongoing obstacle in peace talks.

Israel says allowing the Palestinians' return would be demographic suicide for its Jewish people. It expects those refugees to be taken in by a future Palestinian state. Israel has absorbed large amounts of Jewish refugees over the decades, including those who fled from Arab countries in 1948 and 1967.

Palestinian presidential adviser Nimer Hammad said Mr. Abbas was only being "realistic," adding, "He knows he can't bring back 5 1/2 million Palestinian refugees to Israel."

During his interview, Mr. Abbas vowed to prevent another violent Palestinian uprising, or intifada, such as that of the last decade. "We don't want to use terror," he said. "We want to use diplomacy, we want to use politics, we want to use negotiations, we want to use peaceful resistance."

The comment came as Mr. Abbas prepares for a trip later this month to the United Nations, where he will seek an upgraded U.N. observer status for the Palestinians. They believe a U.N. vote on the issue will add pressure on Israel to withdraw from its current borders to lines it held before the 1967 war. Israel says negotiations alone should set a course for Palestinian statehood.



You have 2 remaining free articles this month

Try unlimited digital access

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here

You’ve reached the limit of free articles this month.

To continue unlimited reading

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here