The comments set the stage for what are expected to be difficult negotiations with Hamas in the coming days. With his criticism, Abbas appears to be putting pressure on Hamas to make concessions in the talks.
Ismail Radwan, a Hamas leader, denounced Abbas’ comments, saying they “contradict the spirit of the new partnership and play down the victory of the resistance.”
Under the unity agreement, Abbas formed a Cabinet of apolitical technocrats. Hamas, which is shunned by the international community as a terrorist group, has no formal role, but it has offered its backing from the outside. Israel has boycotted the government, saying Hamas’ involvement is clear, while Western countries are giving the government a chance to prove itself.
The government, however, has failed to get off the ground.
In the coming weeks, Israel and Hamas are expected to start a new round of indirect, Egyptian-mediated talks for an extended cease-fire. Hamas is demanding a full lifting of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza, including the reopening of a sea and airport. Israel has said the blockade will remain in effect as long as Hamas controls Gaza.
The international community has made clear that all funding and reconstruction efforts be handled through Abbas’ government. Israel and the West want guarantees that none of the aid will be diverted for military use by Hamas. A conference of donor nations is expected to take place in October.