The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas has extended till Saturday his deadline for Hamas to accept a manifesto which implicitly recognises Israel. If Hamas refuses to take this step, Abbas says he will put the issue to a referendum.
US Assistant Secretary of State David Welch has been holding talks with the Palestinian President on a new international aid mechanism. The plan involves funneling aid directly to Gaza and the West bank, bypassing the Hamas-led government. While the suspense continues as to whether Hamas will accept Abbas’ statehood manifesto, the president’s Fatah movement and ruling party Hamas have agreed to end their clashes. A government spokesman has said Hamas will withdraw the paramilitary forces that it deployed in Gaza, whose presence has sparked off a spate of violence which has claimed nearly 20 lives over the past month. At the border between Israel and the Gaza strip, Israeli troops have shot dead a Palestinian policeman and wounded two others. The Israeli army says the men were shot at as they approached a border fence, raising suspicions they planned to infiltrate Israel.