Hamas accuses Abbas of treason for dealing with Israel, Olmert's Israeli foes protest talks

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- Leaders of the Islamic militant group Hamas called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas a traitor Monday and vowed to reject any decisions made at the Mideast peace conference in the United States.

In Jerusalem, meanwhile, more than 20,000 Israelis gathered at the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, to protest the conference. Many marched to a square near the residence of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for a noisy demonstration.

Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu also denounced the meeting. "The Palestinians are not lifting a finger to stop terror or recognize Israel as a Jewish state," he said. "I see this summit as a continuation of one-sided concessions."

Coming as the Israeli military killed four Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in an airstrike and a ground clash, the angry comments on both sides showed that both Olmert and Abbas face stiff opposition at home in trying to achieve a peace agreement.

Hamas has been staging daily demonstrations in Gaza against the conference and Abbas, restating their rejection of the existence of a Jewish state in an Islamic Middle East.

"The land of Palestine ... is purely owned by the Palestinians," Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said in a speech, referring to the territory that includes Israel. "No person, group, government or generation has the right to give up one inch of it."

Countering the attacks on the U.S.-sponsored peace talks, Muslim, Christian and Samaritan leaders gathered in the West Bank city of Nablus to offer support for the conference in Annapolis, Md., and call for a peace deal fulfilling Palestinian demands.

-- The Associated Press

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