‘Abbas slams Mashaal for not recognizing Israel’

Originally published in Jerusalem Post

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday criticized Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal’s statement that his group would never recognize the state of Israel, Turkish daily The Hurriyet reported.

“I don’t agree with Khaled Mashaal’s statement on the non-recognition of Israel because we, in fact, recognized it in 1993,” Abbas told reporters in Ankara following a two-day visit to the country.

“A four-article agreement between [Fatah and Hamas] stipulates a two-state vision. And Mashaal approved of this agreement,” he added, according to the report.

Shortly after Turkish media reported on Abbas’s remarks, the Tzipi Livni Party leader spoke with Abbas and said “it is important that the public will hear messages like this, and not lose hope in an agreement.”

Abbas made it clear to Livni that in any discussion of reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, he will demand that Hamas accepts the idea of a two-state solution and its achievement through negotiations and without violence,

Livni’s spokesman said that she continues to emphasize that the only way to reach a diplomatic solution in through direct negotiations between the parties rather than unilateral steps such as the Palestinian statehood bid at the United National General Assembly last month.

Mashaal on Saturday reiterated his movement’s refusal to “give up one inch of the land of Palestine.”

The exiled Hamas leader arrived in the Gaza Strip for the first time ever on Friday, and said: “Palestine from the river to the sea, from the north to the south, is our land and we will never give up one inch or any part of it.”

He was speaking to hundreds of thousands of Hamas supporters during a rally in Gaza City marking the 25th anniversary of the movement’s founding.

During Abbas’s trip to Turkey he also addressed the Israeli government’s recent decision to build 3,000 housing units in Jerusalem and the West Bank, saying that the PA may file charges against Israel with the UN’s International Criminal Court.

“We are not very inclined to resort to this path, but if Israel insists on its unacceptable plan, then we will use other methods,” Abbas said during a joint press conference with Turkish President Abdullah Gul in Ankara. “If Israel continues in this way, we will respond with all means – of course peaceful ones – including the possibility of going to this court.”

Abbas said that if Israel chooses peace, it will find the Palestinians fully prepared. “But if Israel chooses settlements, especially in E1 [between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim], then we will act differently,” he said without elaborating.

Abbas denounced the Israeli plan as an “act of aggression and a red line.”

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