Fatah are required to recognize Israel. His statement, made during an
Arabic radio interview for Al-Arabiya, contradicts previous statements
in which he stipulates that for unity government talks to continue,
Hamas must recognize Israel.
Abbas’ statements to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other officials last week that he would not form a coalition government with Hamas unless its members recognize Israel may cause Rice and the Israeli government to lose trust in the Palestinian leader, whom they saw as their only partner for peace. Because of Abbas’ willingness to cooperate with the West, Rice had offered to help Abbas restart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
But according to Abbas, his own Fatah party never officially recognized Israel. "The PLO, in 1993, recognized Israel as Israel recognized the PLO. Every person has the right to say 'I do not recognize.' Okay? It's your right. It is the right of every organization," said Abbas.
The difference between Fatah and Hamas is that Fatah has made numerous statements recognizing Israel. But Abbas told al-Arabiya that verbal recognition was essential in order to address "every day" Palestinian matters. Verbal recognition, he explained, only amounted to recognizing Israeli political counterparts, not the state itself.
Abbas means to say that mutual recognition is implicit once one entity, such as the Palestinian government interacts with another entity, like the government of Israel. It is impossible to negotiate or interact with someone without recognizing that the person or entity exists, a claim that Hamas has been making all along.
This is not the first time President Abbas has made contradicting statements in public. There seems to be a lack of communication between Hamas and Fatah leaders, especially in regards to the unity government, leading to confusion and distrust among each party’s respective members as well as the Palestinian people.