Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Abbas delays referendum decision

From the BBC:

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has given Hamas until the end of the week to accept a plan for statehood that implicitly recognises Israel.

Mr Abbas' party has backed putting the statehood plan to a referendum if Hamas does not drop its opposition to it.

Hamas does not recognise Israel and has so far rejected Mr Abbas' plans for a Palestinian state taking shape alongside the Jewish state.

Hamas, which heads the government, has said a referendum would be illegal.

A Hamas official, parliamentary speaker Aziz Dueik, said his party opposed Mr Abbas' call for a referendum while "there is hunger and famine because of the international boycott of the Palestinians".

On 25 May, Mr Abbas said he gave factions 10 days to accept his statehood plan or else he would call a referendum on the issue.

Talks held on Monday broke down one hour before the deadline expired.

In other incidents on Tuesday:

  • Three people are hurt in an explosion at Mr Abbas' security headquarters in the Gaza Strip

  • Palestinian militants fire rockets at the southern Israeli town of Sderot, injuring one woman

  • Israeli jets fire missiles at Gaza City, killing two militants


Hamas has reacted angrily to Mr Abbas' plan, with spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri insisted that the talks must continue.

"You cannot raise the sword of ultimatum," he said.

He also reiterated the group's view that the referendum plan was not the way forward.

Prime Minister Ismail Haniya of Hamas has said Palestinian law does not allow for such a vote.

Tension between Fatah and Hamas has been growing steadily since the latter won general elections in January.

On Monday, armed supporters of Hamas stormed a TV office in Gaza, complaining of bias towards Fatah.

Hamas itself denied any responsibility for the attack.

Fatah recognises Israel, but Hamas officially wants an Islamic state in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Its charter calls for Israel's destruction.

The plan Mr Abbas will put to a non-binding referendum is an 18-point programme agreed by various faction members jailed by Israel.

It sets out formal Palestinian claims to an independent state on land occupied by Israel in 1967, as well as the right of all Palestinian refugees to return to former homes inside Israel.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the last line in the report shows one of the reasons why the Israelis will reject the plan, as they have always maintained that a right of return to Israel proper is a non-starter. Nevertheless, it would be a small step towards drawing Hamas into a framework we could begin to work with.