Mahmoud Abbas called on Palestinians to topple the Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip.
“We have to bring down this gang that took over Gaza with force of arms,” the Palestinian Authority president said Thursday in a televised speech from his West Bank headquarters.
Abbas’ remarks were among his strongest against Hamas since the radical Islamist group trounced his Fatah faction in Gaza in June.
Abbas has been under pressure to reassert his authority ahead of the Annapolis peace conference with Israel, though few observers expect Fatah to be able to take back Gaza by force. Diplomats hope that Palestinians in Gaza, which has been isolated internationally, will turn against Hamas after they see
relative prosperity and stability growing in the West Bank.
In his speech, which marked the 19th anniversary of a Palestinian independence declaration by his late predecessor Yasser Arafat, Abbas urged Israel to stop building settlements in the West Bank.