Palestinian president makes first explicit call for overthrow of Hamas in Gaza

>RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on Thursday for the overthrow of Gaza’s Hamas rulers, following the Islamic group’s deadly crackdown on his loyalists in June.

Abbas stopped short of urging an uprising, but he appeared to be trying to capitalize on growing discontent with Hamas in the coastal territory. It was his first explicit demand that Hamas be ousted since the militant group seized power.

Provoking the tough talk was Hamas’ firing on a huge Fatah rally in Gaza City on Monday, killing eight civilians and wounding dozens in Fatah’s strongest show of strength against the Islamists since the Gaza takeover.

Abbas spoke on the 19th anniversary of the Palestinian declaration of independence at a meeting in Algeria.

The declaration has not brought about the establishment of a Palestinian state, but is regarded as significant because it implicitly recognized Israel’s right to exist for the first time.