Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar (center)
Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar (center)Flash 90

The war of words between Hamas and Fatah is heating up, as a senior Hamas official asserted that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had forfeited his legitimacy to lead.

In an article published in the Hamas journal "Palestine", senior official Mahmoud Al-Zahar accused Abbas of "treachery" over the PA's security cooperation with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), saying that that - along with the fact that Abbas's term as "president" expired years ago - rendered him illegitimate to rule PA-held territory.

In the article, published Friday April 11, Zahar branded Abbas an "embarrassment" to the Palestinian Arab population and called on him to end security cooperation with Israel.

Responding to claims Hamas was interested in establishing its own official "Palestinian state" in Gaza, Zahar asserted that neither Gaza nor the "West Bank" (Judea and Samaria) were sufficient for the Islamist group, which aspires to destroy the State of Israel in its entirety.

"If we succeed in setting up a government in Gaza, autonomy, civil administration or any other framework on a portion of the land of Palestine (sic), that does not mean that we give up on one other grain of Palestine," he said.

The article is just the latest direct challenge by Zahar, who is among the closest to Iran of Hamas's senior leadership, to Abbas's rule.

In an interview just one week previously, he called for the overthrow of the PA administration in Judea and Samaria.