Abu Rudeineh: Abbas will offer Hamas January elections

PA president's aide tells 'TIME' that Abbas has already extended proposal to Hamas informally, will officially put offer on table next month.

PA President Abbas with Hamas PM Haniyeh 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Suhaib Salem)
PA President Abbas with Hamas PM Haniyeh 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Suhaib Salem)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will officially propose to Hamas officials that elections be held in Gaza and the West Bank in January, Nabil Abu Rudeineh told TIME magazine on Thursday. Under the stalled Palestinian reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas elections were supposed to take place in May 2012.
"We're suggesting January, because the law requires 90 days notice," the senior Abbas aide told TIME, adding that the proposal had already been extended to Hamas informally and was likely to be officially put on the table early next month in Cairo.
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Abu Rudeineh's comments came after senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar challenged Abbas to test his popularity in elections following the deal that Hamas signed with Israel, releasing over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit.
"We invite Abu Mazen [Abbas] to enter into elections to see the extent of his popularity in the Palestinian street," Gaza daily Al Resalah quoted Zahar as saying on Wednesday.
Zahar rejected criticism that the Schalit deal may have undermined the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah, which Abbas has said he pursued in order to pave the way for national elections.
"Abbas disrupted the reconciliation under US pressure for the benefit of [the UN statehood bid in] September," Zahar said.
Zahar encouraged a resumption of the reconciliation agreement, urging Abbas away from his bid for statehood at the United Nations on the basis of a two-state solution with Israel.
"We will not sell the right of future generations," Zahar said, warning against giving up the right-of-return for Palestinian refugees in a two-state solution. Hamas was consistently critical of the PA's UN bid, fearing the legal implications it would have for Palestinian refugees.
Last Sunday, Zahar claimed Abbas would not have been able to bring about a release of Palestinian prisoners such as Hamas achieved in the Schalit deal.
"Abu Mazen [Abbas] was negotiating a million years and has not achieved such a deal, and he demanded that they [the prisoners] be released without offering anything in return," Zahar said during an interview with Army Radio.
Zahar's comments underline the widely held perception that the Schalit deal was a political victory for Hamas.