Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has blamed Israeli
policies for the current tensions on the ground and urged Palestinians to maintain national unity.
In a televised address on Saturday, Abbas said "we hold the Israeli government fully responsible for the consequences of its policy, which reflects a step backward from what we had achieved ... and sabotaged any chance to maintain the truce".
"No one could expect the continuation of the truce from one side," Abbas cautioned.
He added that "we should not be dragged into the Israeli ploy of trying to incite us which would lead to internal fighting".
"This is what Israel wants to achieve to allow it to renege on its agreements and to use this as an excuse to destroy what we have achieved recently in Cairo through political diplomacy."
The escalating violence, with both Palestinians and Israelis blaming each other, has killed 11 Palestinians and six Israelis in four days and put huge stress on the informal ceasefire which all the Palestinian resistance movements had undertaken with Abbas.
The period of "calm" was agreed upon after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Abbas declared a truce five months ago.
Abbas accused Israel of trying to
distort the Palestinian struggle
"Israel wants us to lose international support we gained for our stance on issues like Jerusalem, settlement, separation wall and full pullout," Abbas added.
"During our talks with Israel, we also insisted on the release of our prisoners, soldiers of freedoms," Abbas added.
Abbas referred to the period after the demise of Yasser Arafat and his election campaign saying that he confirmed the right of Palestinians to resist occupation and their right to self-defence.
"We were clear in our condemnation of all acts that contradict our principles and seriously harm our cause. These contradictions distort our struggle and give Israel the excuse to escalate its policy of assassinations, [military] incursions, destruction and state-sponsored terrorism," the Palestinian president said.
Abbas said this was how Israel attempted to distort the Palestinian struggle and have it branded as terrorism. "Yet, our people are victims of this state-sponsored terrorism. Our people are against all forms of terrorism."
The PA leader called on Palestinian resistance movements to heed the "calm" that was agreed upon.
"We should all be devoted to one higher legal authority," Abbas said, referring to the Palestinian Authority.
Abbas said the PA "rejects the firing of rockets which is perceived as provocative acts and only harms our people".
"Yet, our people are victims of this state-sponsored terrorism. Our people are against all forms of terrorism"
Palestinain Authority president
He called for national unity to be maintained under the PLO umbrella adding that "all the [Palestinian] groups should seek a political solution which is in accordance with the law and through ballot boxes".
Abbas, referring to the internal measures taken to root out corruption, said: "We have taken measures to fight corruption and misuse of authority. We reaffirm our commitment to reconstruction, improving the economy, fighting poverty and unemployment."
Meanwhile, Israeli helicopters continued bombarding Palestinian residential areas. Overnight, three buildings were partly destroyed in the Gaza strip, wounding two people including a young girl, as Israeli occupation forces imprisoned 24 suspected Hamas members and two suspected members of Islamic Jihad in the West Bank.
Palestinian security sources said Israeli troops had erected checkpoints dividing the Gaza Strip into three parts and that all men between the ages of 16 and 35 were banned from crossing the southern border into Egypt on Saturday.
Israeli helicopters have fired
missiles into Gaza
Sharon said late on Friday that he had "ordered the army to take all necessary measures against terrorist organisations" and that there was "no limit" on the orders handed down to the army.
On Saturday, Sharon told a private television channel that the violence would not hinder the "disengagement" from the Gaza Strip set to begin next month.
"The redeployment will take place according to the timetable set... Attacks will not stop this redeployment, because this operation is not linked to terrorism and will not take place under Palestinian fire.
"But in the event of an attack, Israel's response will be very hard," he said.