Palestinian polls show Abbas gaining significant support in recent months over Hamas, which harshly criticized his willingness to meet the Israeli leader without a settlement freeze in place.
Heading into a US-brokered meeting Tuesday morning with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is facing deep pessimism from his own people about the prospect of peace – and a severe attack on his credibility by Hamas.
President Abbas's popularity among Palestinians had risen significantly in recent months, potentially giving him more clout as a negotiator. But scathing criticism from Hamas over his agreement to meet Mr. Netanyahu on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York could eat into those gains.
In a statement sent to reporters in Gaza, Hamas said it was "truly shocked" that Mr. Abbas accepted President Barack Obama's invitation for the talks, given that Abbas has insisted for months that he would not meet Netanyahu without a freeze on settlement expansion in the West Bank.
"This means that Abbas has yielded to Israel and the US and retreats from his stance," said Hamas, calling Abbas's decision "a submission to the Zionists." The Islamic movement, which has controlled the Gaza Strip for over two years, called on Abbas "to immediately stop his political rush and stop yielding to Zionist dictations," adding that he should first achieve Palestinian unity.
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