Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in his first clear and stark denouncement of Hamas’ attacks on Israel, said the militant group’s actions “do not represent the Palestinian people.”
“The policies and actions of Hamas do not represent the Palestinian people, and it is the policies, programs, and decisions of the Palestine Liberation Organization that represent the Palestinian people as their legitimate and sole representative,” Abbas said during a phone call with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Sunday, the official Palestinian press agency WAFA reported.
Abbas called for an end to civilian casualties, the release of prisoners and a rejection of violence, according to WAFA.
During the call, Abbas also emphasized the urgent need for Israel to stop its aggression in Gaza and to immediately protect Gazan civilians by opening a humanitarian corridor for provisions of medical supplies, water, electricity, and fuel, WAFA reported.
Abbas said displacing Palestinians from Gaza would represent “a second catastrophe for the Palestinian people,” WAFA added.
Key context: Israel is at war with Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls Gaza and carried out devastating terror attacks in Israel earlier this month.
Abbas is the leader of the Palestinian Authority, a government body with limited self-rule in the West Bank. It was established in the 1993 Oslo Accords, a peace pact between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization that saw the PLO give up armed resistance against Israel in return for promises of an independent Palestinian state.
Hamas — which is designated as a terrorist organization by the US, European Union and other countries — presents itself as an alternative to the Palestinian Authority, which has recognized Israel and has engaged in multiple failed peace initiatives with it.
CNN’s Abbas Al Lawati and Nadeen Ebrahim contributed reporting to this post.