Abbas Calls Israel ‘The Zionist Enemy’

(IFM) PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas, who is the leading candidate in the elections for the Palestinian Authority Chairmanship to be held on January 9th, called Israel the "Zionist enemy" in what marked a sharp escalation of his campaign rhetoric, HA’ARETZ reported. Speaking to thousands of supporters after an IDF retaliatory strike killed seven Palestinians in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya, Abbas said: "We came to you today, while we are praying for the souls of the martyrs who were killed today by the shells of the Zionist enemy in Beit Lahiya."

While Abbas is considered a moderate and has the tacit support of Israel and the United States, he has in recent days been courting terror group members, campaigning in Palestinian areas that have been the hardest hit by four years of fighting.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom expressed his disappointment with Abbas’ latest statements today, which he branded as "the kind that hasn’t been heard in a long time."

"We cannot accept the argument that Abbas’ statements stem from campaigning motives," Shalom said, adding that Israel expects Abbas to stamp out the firing of Qassam rockets into Israeli territory.