A spokesman for Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement launched a verbal attack on Hamas in a recent television interview.
The spokesman, Ahmad Assaf, said members of the movement behave “like criminals and thugs”. The interview, which aired on Palestinian Authority TV on June 11, was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
“The Hamas government, or the Hamas leaders in Gaza, think that the government of Dr. Rami Hamdallah operates like they do. Dr. Hamdallah was a university president. He respects the law. He has gained the trust of President Abbas, of Fatah, and of the Palestinians,” said Assaf.
Hamdallah, he continued, “does not obey the orders of your local mosque sheik, who issues a fatwa-on-demand legitimizing killing Fatah members, another fatwa justifying your coup, yet another, supporting reconciliation, a fatwa in support of the elections, and another banning the elections… Dr. Hamdallah doesn’t work that way.”
“Hamas’s gang of riff-raff, thugs, and delinquents, who call themselves ‘police,’ bust into banks, prevent people from collecting their salaries, and they impede people from earning their daily bread,” he charged. “They do this following the orders of the Hamas leaders. This is not how responsible people who care about the Palestinian’s interest behave.”
“[Money] is the only thing they hold sacred, and that’s why they demand to [unite] the finance ministries. But they expect the interior ministry to continue to obey the orders of the robe-wearing sheik at their local mosque,” continued Assaf. “But this money came as a result of the Oslo Accords. This is the same money we got from America and Europe. We ‘sold out’ Palestine for this money, didn’t we? You condemn us 24/7 for accepting this aid for the Palestinians, but all of a sudden this money has become the most holy thing around.”
“We know that Iran pays you on a monthly basis. The international organization of the Muslim Brotherhood invests in you. You are its spearhead. That’s how you gained access to all the Arab countries,” charged Assaf, adding, “Hamas has collected billions of dollars. On your collection box at the mosque it says ‘Jerusalem,’ but Jerusalem has nothing to do with you. You have used the Palestinian people to collect dollars by the hundreds of millions. You were the milk cow of the Muslim Brotherhood, but where is it now?”
The comments seem surprising considering that Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation pact and formed a unity government.
Even after the formation of the unity government, however, there has been tension between the sides.
The PA has threatened to end its unity deal with Hamas over the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers, even though it celebrated the kidnapping.
Hamas, in return, condemned Abbas’s statement on the kidnapping. The group’s spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said the comments “are unjustified, harmful to Palestinian reconciliation…and a psychological blow to the thousands of Palestinian prisoners suffering a slow death in the occupation’s jails.”