Abbas uses Arafat rally to attack Hamas
Palestinians on Sunday marked three years since the death of their iconic leader Yasser Arafat. The third anniversary of Arafat's demise on November 11, 2004 in a Paris hospital sees the Palestinian Authority which he created in 1994 in control of only scattered, autonomous areas in the occupied West Bank.
Speaking at a rally commemorating Arafat, Palestinian President Mahmoud on Sunday slammed his rivals from Hamas. Abbas condemned Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip and demanded it "retract its black coup" before there can be any dialogue between rival Palestinian factions.
"There are those who stabbed our democracy and preferred the military coup to the path of national dialogue," Abbas said, according to the AP. Hamas "cannot erase Arafat's achievements," he added.
Abbas was addressing thousands of supporters of Fatah.
Abbas also attacked Israel, calling its West Bank separation barrier the "ugly separation apartheid wall" and saying Palestinians remained committed to removing all Israeli settlements and checkpoints in the West Bank. But the Palestinian leader pledged to move ahead with peace talks with Israel.
"Peace and security cannot be achieved by aggressive actions and our strategic choice is peace, based on our full adherence to our national rights," Abbas said.