Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that while he opposes taking up armed struggle against Israel at the present time, he would not rule out the option for the future.

"I do not support a return to armed struggle at this point in time. But, at a later date, this could be an option for the Palestinian people," Abbas said on Thursday during an interview with the Jordanian newspaper Ad-Dustour.

Abbas added that the Israelis and Palestinians have reached a dangerous crossroads, as chances for a peace agreement by the end of the year sour.

Abbas said the current situation calls for continued efforts to achieve peace through negotiations, adding that he has a mandate from the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian legislature to pursue talks.

He said Hamas also supports continued negotiations.

Abbas said the Palestinians have the right to choose their leadership, but stated: If "the people choose Hamas, I will not hesitate to resign as president."

Recent days have seen a marked change in the tone of statements made by the Palestinian president.

In a recent interview, Abbas hinted that if a peace agreement is not reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority this year he would resign from office.

Meanwhie, Abbas' spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeina, said Thursday that the Israel Defense Forces' military actions "meant only one thing: the Israeli government ... aims to destroy the peace process."

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said: "These stupid missiles being launched - firecrackers, but at the end they have killed Israeli civilians -- we condemn this, clearly, openly,straightforwardly," he said.

"But at the same time, we condemn all the Israeli incursions into Gaza, killing Palestinian civilians, destroying their houses, preventing them from having a normal life," he said.

Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas's top leader in the Gaza Strip, said in a statement "repeated crimes by the Zionist occupation against our people and the targeting of children are proof that the leaders of the occupation are suffering from hysteria."