Oct 15 (Reuters) – The Palestinian Authority’s official news agency published statements by President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday criticizing Hamas for its actions but later deleted the reference to the armed group without providing an explanation.
These statements, which Wafa published on its website, came during a phone call between Abbas and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The two discussed the Israeli bombing of Gaza following Hamas’ deadly rampage on Israeli cities.
Wafa’s original report on Abbas’s call included the following line: “The President also emphasized that Hamas’s policies and actions do not represent the Palestinian people, and that the policies, programs and decisions of the (PLO) represent the Palestinian people as their own people.” The only legitimate representative.
Several hours later, the phrase was amended to read as follows: “The President also affirmed that the policies, programs and decisions of the Palestine Liberation Organization represent the Palestinian people as their sole legitimate representative, and not the policies of any other organization.”
It was not immediately clear why the reference to Hamas was deleted. There was no immediate comment from Abbas’s office or Wafa’s office. Hamas had no immediate comment.
The Palestinian Authority, led by Abbas, exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. He has long opposed Hamas, which took control of Gaza in 2007 and ousted Fatah forces loyal to Abbas. Reconciliation talks that have been ongoing for years between the two rivals have failed to achieve a breakthrough.
Abbas also heads the Palestine Liberation Organization, the umbrella organization that represented the Palestinians in previous US-sponsored peace talks with Israel.
Wafa Agency reported that during his call with Maduro, Abbas affirmed his “rejection of killing civilians on both sides and called for the release of civilians, prisoners, and detainees.”
(Reporting by Rami Ayoub and additional reporting by Hatem Maher and Ahmed Tolba – Prepared by Muhammad for the Arab Bulletin – Editing by Muhammad Ayoub) Editing by Deepa Babington, Lisa Shoemaker and Sonali Paul
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