PA head Abbas threatens to quit

Abbas says he would honor results of election, even if Hamas wins.

January 17, 2006 02:10
3 minute read.
abbas stands at microphone contemplating 298

abbas at mike 298 88 ap. (photo credit: AP [file])


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Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Monday he will resign if he fails to implement his political platform. He also said he has no plans to run for a second term. Abbas, who was speaking to local reporters on the first anniversary of his election as PA chairman, said he would honor the results of the parliamentary election, scheduled for January 25, even if Hamas should win.

"I was under heavy pressure to prevent Hamas from participating in the election," he said. "But the pressure failed because I insisted on the right of Hamas and all Palestinian factions to take part. These groups are part of the fabric of our people and their political forces." Abbas dismissed Hamas's argument that its participation in the election should not be regarded as recognition of the Oslo Accords. "The parliamentary election is being held on the basis of the Oslo Accords," he said. "The Oslo Accords are not dead, although they have been hampered by [former prime minister] Binyamin Netanyahu. Any change in the agreement would require the support of two-thirds of the members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Palestine National Council [the PLO's parliament-in-exile]." Asked if he was planning to run for another term, Abbas said: "I've been in office for one year now and I won't present my candidacy for another term after three years. My priority is to work toward consolidating democracy, building institutions and completing the process of reforms. If I fail to carry out my program, I will quit." Hamas responded to Abbas's remarks by declaring that the Oslo Accords had died a long time ago. "Hamas is not running in the election on the basis of the Oslo Accords, but on the basis of its political program, which rejects these agreements," said Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip. Ahmed Bahr, a senior Hamas official who is running on the Hamas list, said his movement would not abandon the armed struggle against Israel even after it entered the PLC. "We are not running in the election for money or positions or prestige, but to carry the rifle in one hand and the motto of reforms and change in the other," he said. Fatah candidates on Monday continued to launch scathing attacks against Hamas, accusing the movement of lying to its voters by claiming that it wouldn't negotiate with Israel in the future and that its participation in the election did not mean that it recognized the Oslo Accords. Hatem Abdel Kader, a top Fatah leader from Jerusalem, said Fatah would resort to all methods to win the election. "We will use shoes and force to win the vote," he said. "Nothing will stop Fatah from winning." Fatah activists in Jerusalem have torn down most of Hamas's election posters. Posters featuring Hamas candidates have appeared in several Arab neighborhoods in the city over the past two days. Jerusalem Municipality workers accompanied by policemen also removed the posters. Islamic Jihad on Monday urged its supporters to boycott the election because it was being held under the umbrella of the Oslo Accords. Nafez Azzam, a senior Islamic Jihad leader in the Gaza Strip, said his group would not renew an unofficial truce with Israel, which expired at the end of 2005, because of its continued "aggression" against the Palestinians.

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