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Hamas threatens to sue Abbas over Gaza remarks

Oct. 17, 2009 11:48 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 23, 2009 4:48 A.M.)
Gaza – Ma'an – Hamas will file a lawsuit in Palestinian courts against recent allegations launched by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that de facto government leaders fled the Gaza Strip in ambulances during Israel’s war on the area over the winter.

Abbas first presented the accusation on Tuesday in a Jenin speech, and again in Ramallah on Friday.

Hamas leader Mahmoud Az-Zahar announced preparations for a suit in remarks made Saturday, one day after Abbas told the newly convened Fatah Revolutionary Council that Hamas leaders had ignored his advice on signing a new ceasefire deal after the six-month agreement between Israel and Hamas ran out in November.

He told the more than 100 assembled members that "They [Hamas] kept accusing us of compliance, while their leaders fled the Gaza Strip to Egypt in ambulances."

Israel's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Aharon Leshno Yaar, used the quote to defend the country against South African jurist Richard Goldstone's report on the Gaza war. He said that even Abbas admitted that "the Hamas movement hid in basements."

"The leaders of Hamas ran away in ambulances to Sinai and left our people to bleed," the president was quoted as saying by the ambassador on Thursday, during the lead-up to the Human Rights Council's vote. "Every person here knows that today's meeting is not about human rights, but... to make a point to a domestic Palestinian audience."

On Saturday, Az-Zahar called for Abbas to name those who fled to the Sinai, and noted he should be obliged to present evidence for what he termed such outrageous claims.

He noted that the lawsuit would be separate from Hamas’ consideration of the Egyptian conciliation proposal, for which a delegation of members would head to Cairo to discuss on Sunday.

"There are a few standing problems with the text of the agreement," Az-Zahar said, and "we are ready to make an opportunity for all involved to create the right atmosphere to sign the paper."
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