The Hamas prisoner who helped draft a proposal that would implicitly recognize Israel withdrew his name from the document Sunday, deepening Palestinian divisions ahead of a referendum on the plan.
Senior prisoners from Hamas and the rival Fatah movement drafted the platform in an Israeli prison last month as a way toward ending rising internal tensions. The plan calls for a Palestinian state alongside Israel, implicitly recognizing the Jewish state.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, a moderate from Fatah, quickly endorsed the document, but Hamas leaders, who are sworn to Israel's destruction, have balked at some of the elements. Seeking a way out of the deadlock, Abbas on Saturday called a July 31 referendum on the plan.
In a statement issued in the Gaza Strip, Abdel Khaleq Natche, the top Hamas prisoner held by Israel, said he was no longer a party to the document. He accused Abbas of "unacceptable abuse" of the document and exploiting it for political gain. He also said it falsely implied there were divisions between Hamas prisoners, politicians in Gaza, and political leaders living in exile.
"The document now is completely a Fatah document," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, who read the statement on behalf of Natche and Bassem al-Saadi, a top Islamic Jihad prisoner who also signed the document.
Hamas has repeatedly said it opposes the referendum. It has demanded further dialogue with Abbas in hopes of bridging their differences over the plan.