Hamas ratchets up rhetoric against Israel – and PA

Abbas: PA may resort to UN; Fathi Hammad claims Israel preparing for “another battle against Gaza Strip to uproot Palestinian resistance.”

Abbas and Theofilos III visit Nativity 311 AP (photo credit: AP)
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.
His 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.”
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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 direct talks.”
“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 Palestinian resistance.”
Taking aim at Netanyahu, the Hamas minister said, “We’re coming to liberate Haifa and Acre together with world armies.”
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 prosecuted.”
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 Israel.
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, borders.
“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 peace.”
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 side.”
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.