Abbas: Israel Dragging Region to Religious War

PA president accuses Hamas of bombing Fatah officials' homes in Gaza; jailed PLO leader Marwan Barghouti calls to 'strengthen the resistance.'

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas delivers a speech during a ceremony marking 10 years since the death of veteran leader Yasser Arafat in Ramallah, Nov. 11, 2014.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas delivers a speech during a ceremony marking 10 years since the death of veteran leader Yasser Arafat in Ramallah, Nov. 11, 2014.Credit: AFP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday that Israel's policies have led the region and the world to "a detrimental religious war," and that Israel must stop the provocations.

Speaking at a ceremony in Ramallah marking ten years since Yasser Arafat's death, Abbas said that the Palestinian Authority is determined to move forward with its decision to ask the United Nations Security Council this month to approve the resolution recognizing a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders.

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas visits the grave of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, November 11, 2014 in Ramallah.Credit: AFP

Abbas added that the Palestinians also intend to turn to international bodies such as the International Criminal Court at The Hague should motions for a United Nations resolution fail. "We will turn to the ICC to protect our people, and we will not be deterred by the great pressure exerted on us," he said.

According to Abbas, "the territories occupied in 1967 are not disputed territories but occupied territories, and Israel is trying to create facts on the ground through settlements." He added that "we see the entire settlement project as an illegitimate project in violation of international law, and Israel must remove the settlements because we want a Palestinian state without [them]."

Abbas also accused Hamas of carrying out the explosions that targeted houses of Fatah leaders in Gaza over the weekend, which prompted the cancellation of the Arafat memorial ceremony that was scheduled to take place in the Gaza Strip on Monday. "Hamas' conduct in Gaza and the West Bank is seriously harming reconstruction efforts in the Strip, and doesn’t indicate that the movement is ready for reconciliation and national unity," he said.

According to AFP, he also accused the rival faction of trying "to sabotage and destroy the Palestinian national project."

Hamas denied the accusation, denouncing the Palestinian Authority president as "sectarian and partisan," according to AFP. "Abbas's speech is web of lies, insults and disinformation," AFP quoted Mushir Masri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, as saying.

Meanwhile, jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti released a letter on Monday on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Arafat's death. In the letter, Barghouti called on the Palestinian people "to strengthen the resistance, being the only way to remove the occupation, achieving liberty, returning the refugees and [securing] independence." He also called on the Palestinian leadership to boycott Israel.

Barghouti wrote that the role of the Palestinian Authority must be reconsidered, and that its main function should be supporting the resistance. He said the security coordination with Israel should cease, as it harms the national Palestinian interests. Barghouti also expressed support in turning to the Security Council and international bodies such as the ICC, and called to do more than gamble on negotiations that have so far proven to be nothing more than a "virtual line" that has achieved nothing for the Palestinian people.

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