Mahmoud Abbas - Israel's partner in peace talks and the head of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority - enjoys a reputation as a "moderate," largely in light of his juxtaposition with the arch-terrorists of his rivals/allies in Hamas.  However, he now says that terrorism and violence against Israel are actually the preferred approach, and certainly need not be ruled out in the future. 

"At present," Abbas told the Jordanian newspaper A-Doustour, "I am against an armed struggle against Israel because we can't do it, but in the coming stages, things may change."

"I am against an armed struggle against Israel because we can't do it," Abbas said.

"I do not rule out a return to the way of armed struggle against Israel," he said in the Wednesday night interview.

Seventeen Arabs, mostly terrorists, have been killed in six Israel Air Force counter-terrorism actions in Gaza since Wednesday morning.  One of the dead was the son of a top Hamas official.

Shot the First Bullet

Abbas took pride in the fact that he was the first terrorist in the struggle against Israel.  "I had the honor of firing, in 1965, the first bullet of the 'resistance', he boasted.  He added that it was his Fatah organization that taught Hizbullah and other terrorist organizations in the world how to run terrorist campaigns.

Abbas, whose nom de guerre is Abu Mazen, said that he does not demand that Hamas - the terrorist movement that violently wrested control of Gaza from Fatah last year - recognize Israel at present.  "I wanted to establish a unity government with Hamas that would negotiate with Israel," he said. "Syria's Bashar Assad supported me... I am not the only one who wants recognition of Israel; the Arab initiative, which is a matter of consensus in the Arab and Islamic worlds, also says this."

Abbas was happy about rejecting the notion of Israel as a "Jewish state."  He said that in the Annapolis Summit of last November, "they wanted us to agree to a summation saying that Israel is a Jewish state, and we objected strongly.  The summit almost blew up because of this."