Abbas calls IDF Gaza op 'war crimes'

PA president tells EU parliament he holds Israel's leaders accountable for attacks, lawmakers applaud.

abbas sees stars in EU 248.88 ap (photo credit: )
abbas sees stars in EU 248.88 ap
(photo credit: )
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday said the Gaza attacks were war crimes for which Israeli officials should be held accountable, but he insisted he would continue seeking a lasting peace with Israel. Abbas, who is on a European tour seeking support for a Palestinian unity government, gave a speech at the EU Parliament detailing the suffering of Gaza's civilians during Operation Cast Lead. The PA president said he would push for a war crimes investigation into the IDF attacks, which ended Jan. 18. When he said he held Israel's leaders accountable, he was applauded by European lawmakers. "People who committed those crimes have to be held responsible so that these crimes cannot be repeated," he told reporters after the speech. "We do not want to continue to be the enemies of Israel. We are stretching out our hand for peace with Israel. But what was done is regretfully crimes of war." He also denounced Hamas' rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel, which triggered the Israeli offensive. "I have condemned such rocket attacks for years, and I still condemn them," he said. "They do not go in the direction of peace." However, Abbas said there was no comparison between the IDF operation in Gaza and rocket attacks such as the one Tuesday morning that hit Ashkelon. Vehicles and buildings were damaged, but no one in the 122,000-population city was hurt. Abbas, also told European lawmakers he was committed to reuniting Palestinians and reconciling with Hamas. "Our doors are still open" to a unity government with Hamas, he said. He said such a union would allow Hamas to be part of an effective cease-fire with Israel, but added that "Hamas is capable of respecting a period of calm, whether in government or not."