The President of the Palestinian authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has announced his intention to hold a referendum on his statehood proposal, which implicitly recognises Israel, following Hamas’ rejection of the plan. He has set the date of 31 July for the ballot.
There have been demonstrations in the Palestinian territories to protest against the referendum. Some 6,000 people took to the streets in Khan Zounis in southern Gaza, and hundreds attended a march in the West Bank town of Nablus. On May 25, Hamas and Fatah launched a ‘national dialogue’ to attempt to diffuse the current tensions, but the forces of both of these movements are currently expanding their arsenals, as the power struggle between the two groups intensifies. Israel has killed a Palestinian security chief during an air strike on the Gaza Strip. It is the first time the Jewish state has killed a senior appointee of the Hamas government, which took office in March. Jamal Abu Samhadana was the founder of the Popular Resistance Committees militant group and an interior ministry advisor. He and three other Palestinians died in the missile attack outside Khan Younis. Abu Samhadana was on Israel’s wanted list for his role in a Palestinian armed revolt which took place more than five years ago. His appointment to the Interior Ministry had angered President Mahmoud Abbas.