[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 8 June 2006, 20:42 GMT 21:42 UK
Abbas 'sets date' for referendum
Hamas' Ismail Haniya under a poster of Fatah's Mahmoud Abbas
Tensions between Hamas and Fatah have worsened recently
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is to hold a referendum on a plan for statehood that implicitly recognises Israel on 31 July, officials say.

The Palestinian Authority president will issue a decree formally announcing the date on Saturday, they added.

Mr Abbas had given Hamas, which heads the government, until the end of the week to agree the plan or said he would put it to a public vote.

Hamas has rejected the plan and said a referendum would be illegal.

Mr Abbas had originally set a deadline of last Monday for Hamas to agree to the plan, but extended it so that talks could continue.

He was reported to have met Hamas cabinet ministers earlier on Thursday, but officials said the talks broke up without agreement.

One question

The 18-point plan was drawn up by various Palestinian faction members jailed by Israel.

It implicitly recognises Israel by setting out formal Palestinian claims to an independent state on land occupied by Israel in 1967.

The document also calls for continued resistance within lands occupied by Israel in 1967, suggesting that attacks inside internationally-recognised Israel would end.

"The Palestinian people in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip will be invited to take part in a referendum on the basis of the prisoners' document on Monday, July 31," one official told Reuters news agency.

He said the referendum would ask Palestinians one question: Do you agree with the prisoners' document or not?

Mr Abbas' Fatah faction recognises Israel, but Hamas officially wants an Islamic state in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Its charter calls for Israel's destruction.

Tension between Fatah and Hamas has been growing steadily since the latter won general elections in January.

Israel and the Palestinians



Palestinian women sit on a roof top of the home of a Palestinian family in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on 20 November 2006. Human shields
Palestinians adopt a new tactic to deter Israeli attacks, but this is a high-risk strategy





The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific