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Actions of Hamas ‘do not represent Palestinian people’: Abbas

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas criticised Hamas on Sunday, but then retracted his comment when it was removed from a report by PA mouthpiece news agency WAFA.

The original version of the WAFA report stated that Abbas told Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro that Hamas’ policies and actions “do not represent the Palestinian people” and that the Palestine Liberation Organisation is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. This section was then deleted. Hamas is no longer mentioned in the statement, which now says only that the PLO is “the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and not the policies of any other organisation”.

Abbas called on both sides to release “prisoners and detainees” and repeated his claim that the displacement of Gazans would be a “second Nakba.” The Nakba, or “catastrophe,” refers to some 760,000 Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes during Israel’s 1948 War of Independence.

Abbas’ Fatah movement controls the PLO and the Palestinian Authority administering the West Bank. It has had a very tense relationship with Hamas since the latter forcibly seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 and expelled all Fatah officials from the coastal enclave after Israel unilaterally withdrew troops from the entire Strip to the pre-1967 borders in 2005.

On Saturday, US President Joe Biden had a conversation with Abbas. Abbas told the US president about efforts to help the Palestinian population, especially in the Gaza Strip. Biden reiterated to Abbas that “Hamas is not defending the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and self-determination.”

According to WAFA, Abbas said that “all attacks must stop and international humanitarian law must be respected” in Gaza. Abbas also called for allowing “humanitarian corridors” out of Gaza for water, electricity, fuel and medicine.

Biden has held at least five conversations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after Hamas launched a bloody attack on southern Israel last Saturday in which its terrorists killed some 1,300 people, mostly civilians, including children and the elderly, and kidnapped 150-200 people and took them hostage to the Gaza Strip. The Biden administration has not publicly urged Israel to restrain its response, as it has pledged to eradicate Hamas, but has emphasised the country’s commitment to abide by the rules of war.

The  international community and US has expressed concern about the number of civilians at risk and the possible consequences of a protracted war. Israel, preparing for a ground invasion, called on residents of northern Gaza to move south for safety, while Hamas ordered them to remain in their homes and allegedly prevented them from evacuating.


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