Image: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Nasser Nasser  /  AP
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, arrives at his house the West Bank city of Ramallah, on Wednesday.
updated 4/28/2005 7:29:39 AM ET 2005-04-28T11:29:39

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas threatened to use force against anyone who violates a cease-fire with Israel, his toughest warning against Palestinian militants since taking office in January.

In a speech to Palestinian police, Abbas also pledged to maintain quiet during the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip this summer.

“We have to give them a calm departure,” he said, according to a summary of the speech published Thursday by the Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Abbas has been under heavy pressure from Israel and the United States to rein in Palestinian militants, who had a relatively free hand under Abbas’ predecessor, the late Yasser Arafat. But so far, Abbas has preferred to negotiate with the armed groups.

Most of the militants have signed on to a cease-fire agreement with Israel. While there has been a sharp drop in violence, militants have fired several rockets at Jewish settlements in Gaza and an Israeli border town in recent days. One salvo landed near a large gathering of Israeli demonstrators in a Gaza settlement on Wednesday, lightly wounding one soldier.

Abbas told police officers such violence cannot be tolerated.

“Whoever wants to sabotage (the truce) with rocket fire or shooting must be stopped by us, even if that requires using force,” Abbas said. “There is a national consensus regarding the calm, and whoever departs from this consensus will be struck by an iron fist.”

Abbas did not single out any specific militant group.

No one has claimed responsibility for the recent rocket attacks, although a tiny group, the Popular Resistance Committees, has said it opposes the cease-fire and is suspected by Israel of being behind some of the violence.

The biggest militant groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have largely honored the truce. Hamas appears to be focusing its efforts on Palestinian legislative elections scheduled in July.

Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri said Thursday that Hamas remains committed to a cease-fire but accused Israeli of breaking its promises.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments