“Now that the Israeli withdrawal has finished we can better address the problem. I hold that by the elections on January 25 the situation can be brought substantially under control,” Abbas told Corriere della Sera.
The interview was granted to Corriere journalist Lorenzo Cremonesi, who was abducted by armed men on Saturday near the Kfar Darom settlement in Gaza, and freed a few hours later. The abduction was an indication of increasing lawlessness surrounding the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, which was completed Monday.
Abbas said Palestinian police forces had been weakened during the Intifada and that they currently lack the resources needed to bring terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad under control.
“We started reconstructing just five years ago,” Abbas said.
‘We need American, Israeli help’
Abbas ruled out disarming Hamas, saying any such attempt "would be a useless move destined to plunge us into a civil war.”
"Hamas for the first time has announced that it will participate in elections. It will become a party like all the others. If this happens, soon it will no longer need arms,” he said.
Abbas said that corruption in his government had already been reduced by 60 percent.
“But we need help, lots of help, especially from the Israelis and Americans, in order to go forward,” he said.
Abbas greeted Sharon’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip as “a very courageous and very important move,” but added that further action by Israel was needed.
“The obstacle is that the Sharon government continues to expand the colonies of the West Bank. In this way he blocks on the ground the possibility of the birth of a Palestinian state,” Abbas said.
"The fundamental problem is that all the moves of (the Israelis) are made unilaterally,” he said.