Israel accuses Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas of sparking a new conflict with Hamas

Israel's defence minister on Thursday accused Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas of trying to spark a fresh conflict between the Jewish state and Abbas's longtime rivals Hamas.

AFP June 22, 2017 15:25:29 IST
Israel accuses Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas of sparking a new conflict with Hamas

Herzliya (Israel): Israel's defence minister on Thursday accused Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas of trying to spark a fresh conflict between the Jewish state and Abbas's longtime rivals Hamas.

Avigdor Lieberman said Abbas, head of the secular Fatah movement that rules the occupied West Bank, was trying to increase tensions by cutting payments for electricity and other services in Gaza.

Israel accuses Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas of sparking a new conflict with Hamas

File image of Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. AFP

"Abu Mazen didn't make a one-time cut," Lieberman told the annual Herzilya security conference near Tel Aviv, referring to Abbas by his nickname.

"His intention is actually to continue cuts and in a few months to stop paying for fuel, medicines, salaries and many other things."

"In my opinion the strategy is to hurt Hamas and also to drag Hamas into a conflict with Israel," he said.

Islamists Hamas seized Gaza from Fatah in 2007 and the two Palestinian factions have had hostile relations since.

The Abbas-led Palestinian Authority had nonetheless continued to pay for electricity and some other services in Gaza.

Abbas recently announced the PA would no longer pay Israel to supply electricity to Gaza, prompting Israel to stop deliveries this week.

The move threatened to leave the two million Gazans with as little as two hours of power a day, prompting warnings of risks of Hamas retaliation.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars in Gaza since 2008, most recently in 2014.

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