The Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will call for a referendum on his proposal for statehood today, which implicitly recognises the right of Israel to exist.
The poll could be seen as a confidence vote in the six-month-old Hamas administration, whose refusal to acknowledge Israel’s existence has led to economic sanctions by the West. Talks with the Hamas-led government foundered late last night. “We want to complete the talks in a constructive way and reach a united national agreement. We are sorry that matters have reached this point. The decision now lies with the President. He will decide if, how and when the referendum will be held,” said independent politician Hanan Ashwari. Abbas had given Hamas representatives until midnight to embrace the manifesto drawn up by prisoners in an Israeli jail. The group refused, claiming the concept was illegal. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri said the group would not accept the document as a base for the Palestinian government’s policy without some adjustments being made. Tension between Fatah and Hamas has been increasing steadily since the latter was voted in during the course of a general election in January. In the latest attack in Gaza, three men were injured after militants opened fire on a group of security officers in the town of Khan Younis. Yesterday a pregnant woman was killed in the same town during a similar attack.