(photo credit: AP [file])
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said he is seriously considering a proposal by a group of academics, politicians and professionals representing a broad spectrum of Palestinian society for the establishment of a transitional government composed of independent figures to resolve the crisis between Fatah and Hamas.
They spoke at press conference held in Ramallah on Tuesday under the title, "Appeal for the Sake of Palestine," comes amid growing concern that the Fatah-Hamas dispute could turn into civil war.
Sources close to Abbas reiterated on Tuesday that he was determined to take "real measures" to end the crisis, possibly including dissolving the parliament and calling new elections.
However Abbas suffered a major setback on Monday when he discovered that he did not have the backing of a majority on the Fatah central committee for such a move.
The panel was scheduled to meet in Amman, but the meeting was called off at the last minute due to disagreement between Abbas and many other Fatah leaders over how to tackle the crisis with Hamas.
Fatah leaders welcomed Tuesday's call for the establishment of a transitional government and said they hoped Hamas would consider the initiative.
Hamas said it was studying the idea, and that the door remained open for the formation of a national unity government.
Dr. Mamdouh Aker, commissioner-general of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens' Rights, said at the press conference that the time had come for the Palestinians to "get their act together" and to work to achieve unity.
"We are calling for the establishment of a one-year transitional government that would address internal issues such as poverty and unemployment," he said. "The government will also be entrusted with halting the economic and social deterioration in the Palestinian territories."
Aker said this would the best solution for now, especially since it could take a long time to reach an agreement on a unity government. He urged Palestinians to back the initiative by signing a petition calling on Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas to accept the transitional government proposal.
The initiative also calls for the PLO to be in charge of negotiations with Israel, ending lawlessness and anarchy, and reforming the PA security forces.
"Because of the growing danger of internecine fighting, we call on all Palestinians to start making an effort to avoid civil war and to put an end to the existing differences in the Palestinian arena," the initiative stated.
Hamas was the only parliamentary group that did not send a representative to the press conference. Two Fatah legislators, Abdullah Abdullah and Rabiha Diab, were present, as were representatives of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Peoples' [Communist] Party.
"This is a brave and honest initiative that deserves the backing of all sectors and political factions," said Ahmed Abdel Rahman, a Fatah spokesman and Abbas aide. "This is a good way to rid our people of the dangerous crisis brought on us by Hamas because of its failure to display political flexibility."
Meanwhile, the spokesman for the Hamas-controlled government launched a scathing attack Tuesday on armed Palestinian groups, holding them responsible for the anarchy in the PA.
"Has violence become a culture implanted in our bodies and in our flesh?" he asked in an article published in the PA-funded daily Al-Ayyam newspaper.
"We have surrendered to it until it has become the master and is obeyed everywhere, in the house, the neighborhood, the family, the clan, the faction and the university. We want to get rid of this lethal disease - this cancer - that has destroyed our brains and paralyzed our hearts." Hamad wrote that 175 Palestinians have been killed in internal fighting since the beginning of this year.
Addressing the armed groups, he wrote: "Please have mercy on us. We want to get rid of this monster that is living amongst us. Please don't kill the hope that's left in us."