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Hamas leaders on Monday warned that President Mahmoud Abbas' decision to delay action on a United Nations report criticizing Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip was in essence a "justification" of the war and encouragement of occupation.

The report, by Justice Richard Goldstone, criticized both Israel and the Palestinians for the war in January 2008. Last week the Palestinian delegation to the UN Human Rights Council dropped its support for an immediate vote on the report.

Speaking to Gaza lawmakers, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh accused Abbas of having "justified" the war by agreeing to defer a UN vote that would have condemned Israel's failure to cooperate with the war crimes investigation led by South African judge Richard Goldstone.

Haniyeh said Abbas's decision "cannot be seen as a conciliatory act" and reflected an attitude that "would perpetuate internal turmoil."

Other Hamas leaders at the special legislative session held in Gaza City accused Abbas of committing "national treason."

Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar said that as such, Abbas could no longer be considered a Palestinian and demanded that he be stripped of his citizenship.

Hundreds of protesters in the West Bank condemned the Palestinian Authority on Monday for Abbas' decision.

"Ignoring the Goldstone report is ignoring the blood of the martyrs" one banner held by participants said.

Syrian officials, meanwhile, have postponed a scheduled Abbas in apparent protest at his backing of a delay on the vote, local media reported Monday.

"The Syrian leadership decided to cancel the visit by the head of the Palestinian Authority (PA) which was scheduled tonight in respect of the blood of the martyrs of Gaza which Israel raided for 23 days," the Al-Watan semi-official newspaper quoted an unnamed diplomatic source as saying.

Last Friday, the Geneva-based body had been expected to vote on a draft resolution that would have condemned Israel for not cooperating with the fact finding mission.

The resolution would have also endorsed Goldstone's call for the UN General Assembly or Security Council to follow up on the investigations into alleged violations.

The report accused both Hamas and Israel of committing war crimes in the three-week conflict in the Gaza Strip that began in late December.

Following the decision, the PA came under fire from Hamas and Palestinian human rights groups who accused it of blocking the resolution after heeding pressure from the United States and Israel.

The Palestinian Authority denies that was the reason behind the decision.