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Abbas Threatens to Remove Hamas from Power


The Palestinian President has issued a tough new warning to the Islamic militant group Hamas, which now heads the Palestinian Authority. He's effectively told Hamas to shape up or ship out.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has warned Hamas that he has the authority to remove the militant new government from power. In a TV interview during a visit to Turkey, Mr. Abbas said Hamas has little choice but to deal with Israel. He said otherwise, the Palestinian people would be left to starve because of international sanctions.

Hamas' refusal to renounce violence and recognize Israel has prompted the United States and European Union to cut off hundreds of millions of dollars of aid, and the Palestinian Authority is broke.

Mr. Abbas' threat is the latest salvo in a power struggle that began last week over control of the Palestinian security forces. During a weekend of violent clashes, gunmen from Hamas and the more moderate Fatah movement led by Mr. Abbas exchanged fire, stoking fears of civil war.

Palestinian analyst Wadia Abu Nasser says the threat to topple Hamas is serious, but at this point, it is just a warning.

"I know from different sources that it is under consideration for the moment, but I don't think that Abbas will take such a decision within the coming days," he said. " I believe that, still, Abbas wants to give a chance to Hamas to change before taking such radical decisions."

Despite pressure from Mr. Abbas and the international community, Hamas says it won't change its Islamic ideology, which calls for the destruction of Israel through jihad or holy war. But with no money to run the government, and with the salaries of 165,000 Palestinian Authority employees more than three weeks overdue, Mr. Abbas says it is time for Hamas to wake up to reality.

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