RAMALLAH, West Bank, (AP) – Marking 40 years of Israeli occupation, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned Tuesday that his people are on the verge of civil war and said the infighting is perhaps worse than living under Israeli military rule.
Israel’s capture of the West Bank, Gaza and parts of Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast War was a “black day” for the Palestinians, who paid a heavy price for defeat, Abbas said in a televised speech marking the start of the Six-Day War on June 5, 1967.
Abbas focused on the bloody factional fighting between his Fatah movement and the Islamic militant Hamas. The two parties have been governing in an uneasy coalition since March, but another round of gun battles erupted in May, killing dozens of Palestinians in Gaza.
“Regarding our internal situation, what concerns us all is the chaos, and more specifically, being on the verge of civil war,” Abbas said.
He said he has spent hundreds of negotiating hours trying to halt the bloodshed, “realizing that the what is equal to or even worse than occupation is internal fighting.”