The Hamas terror group, which rules the Gaza Strip, was quick to condemn on Friday the speech by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in which he confirmed that he intends to turn to the United Nations and ask for recognition of a Palestinian state.
In a statement it released on Friday and which was quoted by Israel’s Channel 2 News, Hamas said Abbas’ statehood plan is “full of questions.”
“We are against any step that will be giving up any inch of the land of Palestine or the rights of the Palestinians, including the right of return,” the organization’s statement said.
The ‘right of return’ refers to the Arab leaders demand that as part of a future peace agreement, Israel is to allow millions of Arabs descended from those who left during the 1948 War of Independence to “return” to the cities in which their grandparents and great-grandparents once lived.
The China-based Xinhua news agency quoted an e-mailed statement by Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, who said that Abbas’ intention to go to the UN “is a tactical step aimed at modifying the way of getting back to the negotiation table with the Israeli occupation.”
Barhoum added, “Hamas movement will not give Abbas or the PLO any legal cover or permission to apply to the UN for full membership, because we believe that his act of heading to the UN is a preparation for resuming the negotiations with Israel.”
Barhoum ended by saying: “Hamas will never recognize Israel.” Hamas controls the Gaza Strip already and might overthrow the PA in Judea and Samaria as well if a state is declared.
Hamas was not the only one to criticize Abbas’ speech: Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also attacked Abbas’ remarks as circumventing negotiations and called him back to the negotiating table immediately.
“Peace cannot be achieved by going to the UN unilaterally and not by joining the terrorist organization Hamas,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “Peace will only be achieved through direct negotiations with Israel.”
Netanyahu said that “The Palestinian Authority and its leader consistently avoid direct talks with Israel. When the PA abandons its futile moves such as unilaterally going to the UN, it will find in Israel a partner for direct negotiations for peace.”
Earlier, Abbas made a speech in Ramallah in which he said, “We are going to the United Nations to request our legitimate right, obtaining full membership for Palestine in this organization.”
Abbas urged PA Arabs to refrain from violence, saying “anything other than peaceful moves will harm us and sabotage our endeavors.”
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)