Abbas and Theofilos III visit Nativity 311 AP.
(photo credit: AP)
Hamas is on its way to liberate Haifa and Acre together with other armies,
Hamas’s interior minister, Fathi Hammad, declared on Monday.
threat came as Palestinian Authority officials stepped up their rhetoric against
Israel for refusing to renew the moratorium on settlement construction that
expired on September 26. One PA official described Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu as an “enemy of peace.”
Hamas and Fatah declare start of negotiations
Robinson, Carter encourage non-violent Hamas
Qurei warns of possible ‘armed resistance’ if talks fail
PA President Mahmoud Abbas
rejected Israel’s warning against taking unilateral measures, such as declaring
a Palestinian state. He said that Israel has been taking unilateral
measures for more than 30 years.
Abbas said that an agreement signed
between the PA and Israel in 1995 (the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and
the Gaza Strip, or Oslo II) forbids both sides from taking unilateral steps that
could prejudice the outcome of the peace talks.
During a visit to
Bethlehem on Monday, Abbas said Netanyahu should not lecture the Palestinians
about any unilateral step they might take in the future, “which is to resort to
the United Nations.”
On Sunday, Netanyahu cautioned the Palestinians
about taking unilateral steps, saying “peace will be achieved only through
“I think any attempt to circumvent it by going to
international bodies isn't realistic and won't advance true peacemaking in any
way,” Netanyahu said.
Hammad spoke during a visit to the College of
Science and Technology in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza. He claimed that Israel
was preparing for “another battle against the Gaza Strip in order to uproot the
Taking aim at Netanyahu, the Hamas minister
said, “We’re coming to liberate Haifa and Acre together with world
Hammad heaped praise on international aid convoys (referring to
the periodic land convoys via Egypt) that have reached Gaza in defiance of the
blockade. The convoys carried a message to the Palestinians that “we must remain
committed to jihad and resistance,” he said.
Israel was still suffering
from its “defeat” and “humiliation” in Gaza two years ago in Operation Cast
Lead, Hammad said. “The leaders of the Zionist entity are afraid to
travel to European countries out of fear they would be arrested and
Hammad, who is in charge of the Hamas-controlled security
forces in the Gaza Strip and is one of the Islamist movement’s most powerful
figures, also lashed out at the PA for agreeing to negotiate with
In a message to Abbas, Hammad said: “Oh Abbas, no matter how many
concessions you make, the occupation [Israel] and America will never be
satisfied with you.”
The PA, meanwhile, accused Israel of destroying the
peace process by pursuing a policy of “assassinations, terror, occupation,
repression, settlement construction and detention.”
Fatah spokesman Ahmed
Assaf strongly criticized Israel for opposing the PA’s intention to seek US and
UN recognition of a Palestinian state on the June 4, 1967,
“Israel does not recognize international organizations and
insists on continuing occupation and settlement,” Assaf said. “Israel’s current
policies prove that the government of Netanyahu is destroying the peace process.
Netanyahu and [Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman are the enemies of
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, added
that “it was obvious by now that there is no peace partner on the Israeli
She said that a peace process was impossible while Israel was
“continuing to build in the settlements, steal lands and “Judaize”
Jerusalem.”AP contributed to this report.