Hamas officials on Monday criticized Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' declarations over the weekend that if the diplomatic stagnation continues after the Israeli election, he will dismantle the PA and return responsibility for the West Bank to the Israeli government.
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In an interview to Haaretz on Thursday Abbas said, "If there is no progress even after the election I will take the phone and call [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu. I'll tell him, 'my dear friend, Mr. Netanyahu, I am inviting you to the Muqata [the PA presidential headquarters in Ramallah]. Sit in the chair here instead of me, take the keys, and you will be responsible for the Palestinian Authority.'"
In response, Hamas deputy political bureau chief Moussa Abu Marzouk called on Abbas to hand the keys over to Hamas, not to Israel.
"Why give it up to Netanyahu? We are more reliable. The more effective threat would be for Abbas to hand over authority to Hamas, who has proven its steadfast opposition to the Gaza blockade and has won battles against Israel. This would strengthen efforts at reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas," Abu Marzouk stated.
The declaration drew ire from Fatah members. Fatah spokesperson in the West Bank Ahmed Assaf wondered if Abu Marzouk and Hamas would be willing to assume control of the West Bank considering Israel's unabated settlement construction and the "Judaization" of Jerusalem.
"Abu Marzouk's statements are disconcerting since Hamas is in effect informing Israel that it is ready to step in and replace us, which means accepting what Fatah and the PA refuse to accept," said the Fatah spokesperson.
During the interview on Thursday, Abbas also claimed that since the PA achieved non-member state with observer status at the United Nations last month, Israel has reduced its security cooperation with the PA in the West Bank.
The PA president stressed that despite Israeli fears, he does not plan to exploit Palestine's new status to bring charges against Israel before the International Criminal Court in the Hague.