JERUSALEM (JTA) — Hamas slammed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for attending the funeral of Shimon Peres, calling him “a Jew” and said he should “join Peres in hell.”
“This man who claims to represent Palestinian public opinion is by religious standards a Jew. For the millionth time: He doesn’t represent us, he is a creation of Israel and I hope he joins Peres in hell,” Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior leader in the Gaza Strip, told Iranian TV on Saturday, the Times of Israel reported.
Abbas attended the funeral accompanied by a delegation of three Palestinian Authority officials, including chief peace negotiator and PLO Executive Committee Secretary General Saeb Erekat.
A senior PA official said Saturday that Abbas did not regret attending the funeral the previous day in Jerusalem, which was attended by at least 80 world leaders, and said he attended due to his high regard for Peres.
Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister shook hands and spoke briefly at the funeral, their first public encounter since 2010.
Also on Saturday, Abbas said in a speech in the West Bank city of Bethlehem that the Palestinians will “defeat the occupation.” The speech appeared to be a way to deflect criticism of his attendance at the funeral.
“We have no illusions that the occupation will end tomorrow,” he said. “But they can do what they want, build (settlements) as they please; we will build our homeland and establish our future state, with Jerusalem as its capital.”
The Joint Arab List, the fourth largest political party in the Knesset, did not send a delegation to the funeral.
Party head Ayman Odeh on Friday evening hours after the funeral told Israel Channel 2 that “Peres’ funeral was part of a national day of mourning in which I have no place; not in the narrative, not in the symbols that exclude me, not in the stories of Peres as a man who built up Israel’s defenses.”
Prior to the funeral Odeh had called the reasons “complex.”
“The memory of Peres in the Arab public is different from the narrative discussed in recent years, and I realize such complex messages are difficult to hear a moment after someone died,” Odeh said in a tweet.