Hamas Urges Abbas to Give up on Talks with Israel

Hamas on Wednesday urged President Mahmoud Abbas to abandon negotiations with Israel after its government announced it would punish Palestinians for joining UNESCO.

Israel decided Tuesday to accelerate illegal settlement construction in the West Bank and withhold Palestinian tax revenue from Abbas’ government a day after UNESCO accepted Palestine as a member.

In a statement, Hamas said the decisions showed Israel had a policy to pressure and control the Palestinian people, and pointed to the Israeli military’s recent escalation in attacks on the Gaza Strip.

On Saturday and Sunday, Israeli warplanes killed 12 fighters in the Gaza Strip amid an upsurge in rocket fire toward Israel. Militants fired rockets that killed one Israeli in response to an attack on an Islamic Jihad base.

Hamas urged Abbas, who heads the Fatah party, to rethink his policy of negotiating with Israel and urged the president to form a national dialogue with all factions to evaluate the situation.

The Islamist movement, which governs the Gaza Strip, urged Fatah leaders to build a new strategy based on resistance to achieve statehood.

The last round of negotiations with Israel collapse in September 2010 over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to extend a partial freeze on illegal settlement building in the West Bank.

Since then, Abbas has pursued statehood through international diplomatic channels and in September the president submitted an application to join the United Nations.

On Monday, 107 member states of UNESCO voted in favor of admitting Palestine to the UN cultural body. Israel called the decision a "tragedy."

Netanyahu called for the accelerated construction of some 2,000 housing units, said an official statement released after he convened his cabinet.

(Maan News)

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