fatah supporters car 298.
(photo credit: AP)
In the wake of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's decision to suspend negotiations with Hamas over the formation of a national unity government, the Fatah party on Monday called for holding early parliamentary elections to resolve the current crisis in the PA.
The call came on the eve of Abbas's planned meeting with US President George Bush and amid renewed tensions between Fatah and Hamas over the political program of the unity government.
Fatah leaders accused Hamas of foiling efforts to form a unity government by issuing "provocative" statements stressing that the Islamic movement would never recognize Israel or abide by the agreements that were signed between the PLO and Israel. Hamas, for its part, claimed that Abbas had succumbed to US pressure not to join forces with the movement.
"The Palestinian arena is suffering from a state of chaos, confusion and turmoil," said a statement issued by Abbas's Fatah party. "This is an intolerable situation which must not continue forever."
Expressing support for Abbas's decision to freeze contacts with Hamas, Fatah urged the PA chairman to practice his constitutional right and call early parliamentary elections to rid the Palestinians of the crisis.
"We urge President Abbas to take decisive measures to save our people and end their isolation on the international arena," the statement said.
Azzam al-Ahmed, a Fatah legislator who is closely associated with Abbas, called on Hamas to reconsider its position regarding the political program of the proposed unity government.
"The time has come for our people to say what they think about Hamas's actions," he said. "It's time to hold early elections for the parliament and presidency to resolve the crisis in which our people have been living for the past eight months."
Al-Ahmed said the fact that the PA was now run by two heads has put the unity government idea at stake.
"There are many doubts about the prospects of a unity government," he said. "I don't think it will work as long as Hamas refuses to change its policy."
The Fatah official blamed PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh for the latest crisis surrounding the unity government. "His refusal to accept United Nations resolutions and recognize the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians has foiled efforts to establish a unity government," he said.
Another top Fatah leader, Nabil Shaath, said Hamas was apparently afraid of a unity government. "They are afraid that a unity government would deny them the achievements they made in the last parliamentary election," he said. "Hamas has yet to grasp the idea that a national unity government would end the isolation of the Palestinians on the international arena."
Shaath confirmed that Abbas had suspended talks with Hamas over the formation of the unity government until his return from the US. He expressed hope that Abbas would be able to convince the US to change its position regarding the unity government.
"The problem is that Hamas is lacking in political awareness," he added. "No one is asking Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist or to relinquish its positions. What is important is to act in accordance with the national interests of our people. But Hamas is obviously confused and they don't know what they want."
Hamas leaders played down the significance of Abbas's decision to suspend negotiations over the unity government. "This decision won't have a negative impact on the prospects of forming a unity government," said Ghazi Hamad, spokesman for the Hamas-led government.
Muhammad Awwad, secretary-general of the Hamas-led government, said the decision was a temporary one.
"It's only a matter of time before the two sides resume the talks," he said. "Both Abbas and Haniyeh are very keen on accomplishing the mission successfully."