Abbas Critiques Hamas Leader, Says Recognized Israel in 1993

Days after Hamas’ leadership said they would never recognize Israel’s legitimacy, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas expressed his disagreement with the comments to reporters in Turkey, according to the Hurriyet Daily News. Israel had criticized Abbas for remaining silent following Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal’s speech in Gaza last Saturday.

The public difference in stances on Israel comes as Abbas’ Fatah political group is currently seeking yet again to reconcile with Hamas in an effort to reunite the Palestinian political factions.

Hurriyet Daily News quoted Abbas as saying this week, “I don’t agree with Khaled Meshaal’s statement on the non-recognition of Israel because we, in fact, recognized it in 1993. A four-article agreement between [Fatah and Hamas] stipulates a two-state vision. And Meshaal approved of this agreement.”

Meshaal also laid claim to all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea—the entire land of Israel—and reiterated his group’s commitment to violence as the means to taking it.

Speaking at a rally commemorating the 25th anniversary of Hamas on Saturday, Meshaal was quoted by the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency as saying, “Palestine is ours from the river to the sea and from the south to the north. There will be no concession on an inch of the land. We will never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation and therefore there is no legitimacy for Israel, no matter how long it will take.”

The Hurriyet Daily News report portrayed the disagreement over recognizing Israel as an apparently key obstacle to Palestinian political reconciliation. Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, has been separate from Abbas’ Fatah group in the West Bank since 2007.

The two factions had announced in 2011 plans to reconcile, but so far that goal has yet to be achieved. Israel vehemently disagrees with Fatah’s efforts to reunite with Hamas, as Hamas remains a rejectionist group committed to violence.

The US and others have refused to include Hamas in the peace process until the terrorist organization renounces violence, recognizes Israel’s legitimacy and accepts the past agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

Hurriyet reported that Abbas has spoken with Meshaal by phone this week regarding reconciliation efforts, further noting Abbas said that talks between the sides in Cairo, under Egyptian mediation, would recommence in two weeks.

(By Joshua Spurlock,, December 13, 2012)