Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas denounced the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel in an interview with Channel 2 that aired in its entirety Friday night. The comments could deepen a rift between the PA and Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip and remains committed to terrorism as a tactic in its fight against Israel.
"There is no justification for rockets from Gaza or anywhere else," Abbas said. "Rockets attacks are in vain because they do not bring peace any closer."
In the first part of the interview
, which aired Thursday on Channel 2, Abbas made a rare if symbolic concession to Israel, saying he had no permanent claim on the town from which he left as a child during the War of Independence in 1948.
"Palestine now for me is '67 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. This is now and forever.... This is Palestine for me. I am (a) refugee, but I am living in Ramallah. I believe that (the) West Bank and Gaza is Palestine and the other parts (are) Israel."
His comments drew a swift condemnation from Hamas, which stated that "No Palestinian would accept ceding the right of our people to return to homes, villages and towns from which they were displaced."
"If Abu Mazen (Abbas) does not want Safed, Safed would be honored not to host people like him," the Hamas statement added.
Abbas also rejected violence in the PA-ruled West Bank, saying that under no circumstances will the Palestinians employ "weapons or violence."
"As long as I am sitting here, in this position, there will not be a third Intifada," Abbas said, adding that Palestinians will work towards achieving statehood through "diplomatic and peaceful means" only.
The PA chairman also denied reports that PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was quitting, saying that "Fayyad sat in my office in Ramallah just yesterday and made it clear that he has no intention of resigning."
The televised remarks also appeared aimed at influencing Israelis ahead of their Jan. 22 legislative election.