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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The government of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad came under heavy criticism over the weekend from Hamas and other radical groups for failing to mention the "armed resistance" in its platform.
One group threatened to kill the "traitor" Fayad and his colleagues in Ramallah, while another said it would step up its efforts to bring down his government.
The threats against Fayad are the worst since he was appointed as prime minister last month.
PA security officials here told The Jerusalem Post that they were taking the threats very seriously and that measures had already been implemented to protect Fayad and other top figures.
Hamas, in another act of defiance against Fayad's West Bank government, on Saturday started paying salaries to some 10,000 PA civil servants in the Gaza Strip who did not receive their payments because of their affiliation with Hamas.
On Friday, Fayad's government published its platform, which does not include any reference to the mukawama (a term generally associated with armed struggle) against Israel.
Instead, the government reiterated its commitment to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's call for a "popular resistance against the Israeli occupation."
The new manifesto stated that any peace agreement with Israel must be designed along the pre-1967 borders and that Jerusalem should be the capital of both Israel and any future Palestinian state.
"We were not surprised by the Fayad government's decision to drop the armed resistance from its platform, because this is a government that works according to an American and Israeli agenda," said Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip.
"If Fayad thinks that he can erase the word mukawama with ink he's mistaken. This word was written with the blood of our martyrs."
Abu Zuhri expressed "astonishment" that Fatah had agreed to the platform. "We urge Fatah to take a clear and brave stance toward the policy of the Fayad government, which is acting against the national aspirations of our people."
Abu Mujahed, spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, an alliance of various armed groups in the Gaza Strip, accused Fayad of "legitimizing the occupation and of surrendering Jerusalem and the rest of the territories to the enemy."
Dubbing Fayad a "traitor," Abu Mujahed said the armed resistance had succeeded in "blocking the Zionist project for many years." Fayad, he added, may drop anything he wants from his platform, "but the Palestinians and their resistance movements and thousands of prisoners will always have their own platform. No one will be able to spoil our real platform. The Israeli enemy has failed over the past decades to end the armed struggle, and Fayad won't succeed in doing so."
Abu Abir, a notorious warlord in the Gaza Strip, threatened that his men would target Fayad and "his treacherous gang" in the West Bank.
"We will target them in the field the same way we attack Israel," he said in response to the government's failure to endorse the armed struggle. "We promise to put an end to all the American-backed Palestinian personalities in the near future because of their decision to side with the Israeli enemy."
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Islamic Jihad also condemned the Fayad government, vowing to continue terror attacks on Israel.
"Who does this government represent," asked Khaled al-Batsh, a senior Islamic Jihad leader in the Gaza Strip. "If Salaam Fayad continues to ignore the desire of the Palestinians and insists on dropping the armed struggle from his platform, then he should search for another people to govern."
He said the Islamic Jihad never asked Fayad to support the armed struggle or to carry a rifle and fight Israel. "We knew he would never do such a thing," al-Batsh added. "So why is he now placing getting involved in this sensitive matter? Our response should be to establish a mukawama government."
Jamil Muzher, a representative of the PFLP, described Fayad's decision as a "humiliation" for all Palestinians who died or were imprisoned while fighting Israel.
"The armed struggle is a strategic option in facing the Israeli occupation," he said. "As long as Israel continues to occupy our lands, we are entitled to fight."
Meanwhile, Abbas said Friday that Fatah leaders and security officers held responsible for the fall of Gaza to Hamas would be punished, in line with findings in a 200-plus page report by a committee of inquiry.
The committee said some 60 Fatah officials and members of the security forces should be held accountable for the quick collapse of Fatah forces in five days of fighting with Hamas last month.
However, neither Abbas nor his aides mentioned the names of those being held responsible by the committee and did not release the report itself. Since the fall of Gaza, some 40 members of the security services in Gaza have resigned, been fired or sent into retirement. The most prominent is former Gaza strongman Muhammad Dahlan, who resigned Thursday as national security adviser, citing health reasons.
In a news conference, Abbas aide Nabil Amr said the report found many flaws in the security services, including random hiring and lack of motivation and leadership.
"There was no field leadership... There were only individual initiatives," he said of the performance of the Abbas-allied forces in Gaza.
Abbas said Friday that the committee's recommendations would be implemented. "Whoever had shortcomings will get his punishment, and whoever did his duty will be rewarded, so that we can turn a new page in our institutions," he said.
Palestinian leaders have repeatedly pledged to reform the bloated security services, but have made little progress.
AP contributed to this report.