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Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad on Tuesday defended his decision to drop the term "resistance" from his government's platform, saying the Palestinians still had every right to pursue their "struggle" against "Israeli occupation."
Fayad has come under heavy criticism from Hamas and other radical Palestinian groups for failing to include the term "resistance" in the platform. The term is often associated with the "armed struggle" against Israel and Fayad's decision is seen as an attempt to appease the international community.
The Popular Resistance Committees, an alliance of armed groups in the Gaza Strip, threatened to kill Fayad and other "traitors" in the PA leadership in Ramallah for failing to include mukawama, or resistance, in the manifesto.
But in a series of interviews over the past 48 hours, Fayad, who is currently on a visit to Egypt, appeared to backtrack by arguing that the Palestinians had "every right to resist the occupation." Fayad told Egyptian reporters on Tuesday that "resistance was a legitimate right of the Palestinians as long as they remained under occupation."
"The platform of the government basically calls for ending the occupation," he said. "There's no denying the fact that the Palestinians, as a people living under occupation, are entitled to resist the occupation."
Fayad's recent remarks are also seen as an attempt to appease Palestinian critics who have branded him a "traitor" and a pawn in the hands of the US and Israel.
Fayad also said he was determined to seize any opportunity to advance the peace process with Israel, saying this was in the interest of all parties in the Middle East.
Israeli officials, meanwhile, downplayed Fayad's comment, with one government official saying that it was "probably for internal Palestinian consumption."
"It may not be a moderate statement," the official said, "but what are we going to do now, derail the whole process with the Palestinian Authority?"
The official said that it was clear that when Fayad speaks about resistance, it is significantly different from when Hamas speaks about resistance.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.
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