Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas spoke to Arab journalists in Cairo on Saturday night, warning that the unity deal he sealed with the Hamas terrorist organization in April - torpedoing peace talks with Israel - is on the brink of collapse.
Speaking in the wake of Operation Protective Edge which Hamas initiated with a rocket onslaught, Abbas said "if the government will not be unified, (in terms of) the weapons and laws in the West Bank and Gaza, there won't be any partnership or discussion with the (Hamas) organization."
"I don't trust Hamas much because they change their words all the time. There must be a unified Palestinian Authority," remarked Abbas.
The PA chairman also confirmed reports of a stormy meeting he had with Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal in Qatar on August 21, in which he slammed the Hamas leader for his organization's coup attempt against Abbas in Judea and Samaria.
"You are smuggling weapons, explosives and money to the (West) Bank - and not to fight Israel, but to hold a coup against the (Palestinian) Authority," Abbas reportedly said in his tirade on Mashaal.
Commenting on the meeting Saturday night, Abbas remarked "Hamas has been trying to cause the Palestinian Authority to fail since the day it was formed."
Another point Abbas touched on was the death toll in Operation Protective Edge, making a bizarre claim that some 850 members of his Fatah party were killed in Gaza, compared to only a tiny number of Hamas terrorists.
Abbas claimed just 50 Hamas members were killed in Gaza during the operation, compared with over 850 members of Fatah - a rather outlandish claim given that Hamas and Islamic Jihad members bore the brunt of the Israeli military operation. He did not, however, say how they were killed.
According to the IDF, approximately half of the 2,000 Gazans killed in Operation Protective Edge were terrorists. If those reports are accurate, it would put the ratio of civilian to terrorist casualties at roughly 1:1 - an almost unprecedented achievement in urban warfare.
"Hamas atrocities" against Fatah?
Speaking about the execution of "collaborators" with Israel that Hamas committed towards the end of the operation, Abbas added "Hamas conducted atrocities during the war in Gaza, also at its end when it executed 120 people without trial because they breached the curfew placed on them."
Abbas's mention of curfews appears to be a reference to a reported decision by Hamas to confine dozens of Fatah members to effective house arrest for the duration of the conflict with Israel.
The executions have led to limited international condemnation, and a lawsuit at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes. Rights groups say the charges of "collaboration" with Israel were merely an excuse for Hamas to kill off several high-profile political opponents, including members of Abbas's Fatah faction - a charge Abbas appeared to back in the interview.
Abbas said he plans to present his plan to have the UN set a timeline demanding Israel withdraw from the 1949 Armistice lines to Arab foreign ministers on Sunday. When asked if he would disband the PA if Israel did not give in to his demands, he said "all options are open."
It is worth noting that Abbas's heavy criticism of Hamas comes at a time when the terrorist organization has been enjoying a resurgence of street credibility in Gaza, Judea and Samaria following its terror war on Israel.
A poll last Tuesday found that a full 61% of Arab residents of the areas would pick Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh for unity government president if elections were held today, whereas Abbas would have a mere 32% in support.