Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday criticized Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, who said last week during his visit to Gaza that the organization will never recognize Israel, and called for its destruction.
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Speaking to Turkish reporters in Ankara, Abbas said that he does not agree with Meshal's statements. "We recognized Israel in 1993," he said. "There is an agreement between Fatah and Hamas that recognizes the two-state solution. Meshal approved this agreement."
Later on Thursday morning, Tzipi Livni phoned Abbas to congratulate him on his criticism of Meshal's speech. "It is important that the public hears this sort of message so it does not lose hope in a peace agreement," Livni told the Palestinian leader.
An announcement sent out by Livni said that during the call Abbas told her that in any negotiation over reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, he will require Hamas to accept the principle of a two-state solution, and its achievement through peaceful, non-violent, means.
Since Meshal's visit to Gaza last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman have strongly criticized Abbas, claiming that he tacitly agrees with Meshal's comments because he has not condemned them outright.
Prime Minister Netanyahu told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday, a day after Meshal made the remarks at a "victory" rally marking the Islamist movement's 25-year anniversary, that the declaration had "exposed the true face" of Israel's enemies.
The Palestinains "have absolutely no intention of compromising with us," Netanyahu said. "They want to destroy the state. They will of course fail... The nation of Israel will overcome these hostile enemies."
At the meeting, Netanyahu voiced particular disdain over Abbas' failure to condemn Meshal's remarks. "The interesting thing is precisely that Abu Mazen [Abbas] did not issue a condemnation, not against words calling for the destruction of Israel, just as he did not condemn the firing of missiles at Israel," Netanyahu said, referring to Abbas' silence during the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Abbas wants to unity with Hamas, which is supported by Iran, the prime minister added.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also slammed Abbas in an interview to Israel Radio on Tuesday. “A large delegation of Fatah from Ramallah went to Meshal’s rally,” said Lieberman. “Fatah flags flew there at that rally. Abu Mazen supports [Hamas]."
On Wednesday night, Abbas spoke on the phone with Meshal during a meeting between Fatah leader Azzam Al-Ahmad, and other Fatah representatives with the Hamas leader, in attempt to reach unity between Hamas and Fatah. Meshal updated the PA leader on his visit to Gaza during the call. Al-Ahmad also met with Egypt's intelligence chief Raafat Shehat.
Over the past few days, both sides have taken a number of measures to promote reconciliation. One of these is the first Hamas rally in Nablus, which is due to take place on Thursday, after years in which the movement was prohibited from holding rallies in the West Bank.