Hamas: Abbas doesn't have right to pick Palestinian PM

PA president claims he should choose unity gov't that represents his policies; Hamas accuses him of "unnecessary media escalation."

June 21, 2011 11:05
2 minute read.
PA President Abbas with Hamas PM Haniyeh

PA President Abbas with Hamas PM Haniyeh 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Suhaib Salem)


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Hamas on Tuesday denounced statements made by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in an interview with Lebanese television in which he said that he has the right to choose the prime minister of the Palestinian unity government, specifically mentioning current PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad.

Fatah and Hamas's failure to agree on the identity of the new prime minister has led to the indefinite postponement of the establishment of the unity government. Fatah continues to insist on the appointment of Fayyad, while Hamas says it would never sit together with him in any government.

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Hamas website Al-Qassam quoted organization spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri as calling Abbas's quotes "unnecessary media escalation.”

In the interview with LBC television, Abbas said that he has the right to form a government that represents his policies, saying he would take responsibility for its failure.

Abu Zuhri said that the PA president's statements were false and harmful to efforts to Palestinian unity efforts. He said that the new government must be approved by the Palestinian Legislative Council, a body dominated by Hamas, according to Al-Qassam.

The Hamas spokesman also objected to Abbas saying that he does not order political arrests against those that oppose his policies.

Abu Zuhri accused the Palestinian Authority president of persecuting Hamas members and supporters in the West Bank.

Abbas also addressed the diplomatic process with Israel in the LBC interview, saying that the United States has the power to stop the Palestinians from taking their bid for a state to the United Nations in September.

"I don't know if the United States has other options," he said, "but if they put them in our hands, we will not go to the UN," he said.

During the interview, Abbas said he believed that of the 192 voting nations in the UN, 116 are currently ready to recognize a Palestinian state. However, he said, if the United States was able to bring a return to negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the bid could possibly be reconsidered.

Referring to the current deadlock that has prevented the very negotiations he said he aspires to, Abbas listed borders and security as the two major sticking points. Above all, however, was the status of Jerusalem, an issue about which Abbas appeared intractable.

"If Jerusalem will not be the capital of Palestine," he said, "there will be no state at all."

Abbas said he only met with Netanyahu three times in the past two years, which amounted to only about fifteen hours of direct conversation between the two men. He also told LBC that he did not plan for a third term as Palestinian Authority president when expected elections are held next May.

As for the possibility of a third Intifada should both negotiations and the UN bid fail, Abbas dismissed the idea. "Armed struggle is destroying us," he said of the Palestinians.

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