Abbas to present Hamas ultimatum

Aide says Palestinian leader will call new elections if no coalition is formed.

October 8, 2006 16:17
1 minute read.
abbas 88 AP

abbas 88 AP. (photo credit: AP)

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas plans to present the Hamas-led Cabinet with an ultimatum in the coming days to accept an agreement for a coalition government or head to early elections, an Abbas aide said Sunday. In a meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week, Abbas said he would travel to the Gaza Strip in the coming days for last-ditch talks on forming a joint government with Hamas, an Abbas aide said. If Hamas does not agree by the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan - in two weeks - then he will dissolve the Cabinet, according to the aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions. Abbas will present a new government headed by an independent to the Hamas-dominated parliament, which will likely vote it down, the aide said. He will then propose a second independent government and when that is voted down, he believes he will have proven that the deadlock is great enough to justify new elections, the aide continued. The plan faces several obstacles, including disagreement over whether Abbas has the legal right to call new elections and questions about whether his Fatah Party would perform better than in the previous election. Abbas has been at odds with Hamas since the group won January parliamentary elections. The two sides have failed in their recent efforts to form a national unity government, with Hamas resisting pressure to moderate its views and give in to the Western demands. Ahmed Youssef, political adviser to Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, said the two sides would find a way to reach agreement on a new government before it went that far. "We have to see (Abbas) to hear what is the limit and what is not allowed. And we will agree, and God willing we will find a way out of this tunnel and end this before the end of Ramadan," he said. (rn)

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