- Title: WEST BANK: Hamas rejects deadline on Israel recognition plan
- Date: 27th May 2006
- Summary: PALESTINIAN LAWMAKER AND SENIOR OFFICIAL, MAHMOUD RAMAHI, TALKING TO REPORTER
- Embargoed: 11th June 2006 13:00
- Topics: International Relations,Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA3RCEZD5GTXXYC4992LBUOXWBF
- Story Text: Hamas on Saturday (May 27) rejected a deadline set by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to accept a plan that implicitly calls to recognise Israel, raising tensions ahead of a planned dialogue with Abbas's Fatah movement.
Abbas had stunned Hamas, in power since March after an upset election victory, by threatening to put the plan drawn up by Palestinian leaders jailed by Israel to a national referendum unless it is accepted in 10 days.
Hamas lawmaker Mahmoud Ramahi said to Reuters that despite Hamas's support in the prisoner letter, it needed more then ten days to reach an agreement.
"We see in the initiatives of the prisoners something good and new to start the dialogue. For that we accept this initiatives and we see it as a good plan to start the dialogue. Regarding these ten days we see that maybe we need more than ten days, and we understand that Mr. President (Mahmoud Abbas) will give us more than these ten days, and we hope to reach an agreement through the dialogue not through the referendum," said Ramahi from Ramallah.
He also said that Hamas was "not being offered anything in return" from the international community for recognising Israel.
Ramahi said that Abbas would invite Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas and other top officials to discuss the plan on Sunday (May 28).
He raised hopes that talks would lead to violence recession after weeks of internal fighting in Gaza as a power struggle between Abbas's Fatah and Hamas, which defeated Fatah in a January parliamentary poll, has intensified, raising fears of a civil war.
"We hope that starting this dialogue in Gaza will give persons, citizens in Gaza hope that they finish the situation for that we did not find any conflict between the Palestinian factions. All of us, they accept the idea to change the position from West bank to Gaza, and to continue in Gaza. And tomorrow we have an appointment with Mr president Mahmoud Abbas, and we will agree about that how to change the post of this dialogue from here West bank to Gaza strip," he added.
The plan calls for a Palestinian state alongside Israel if Israel withdraws from all territories it captured in a 1967 war.
Hamas, whose charter calls for Israel's destruction, has rejected the document but is under new pressure to discuss it after an international financial boycott triggered by its positions has threatened to bankrupt the Palestinian Authority.
Sami Abu-Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said the talks expected to have begun on Saturday were delayed as the group has rejected Abbas's deadline for deal and threat to hold a national vote on it within 40 days.
Despite its rejection by Hamas, the document has carried weight because the prisoners jailed on charges of violence against Israel, are regarded as heroes by many Palestinians.
Israel has not responded to the plan and has vowed to set borders unilaterally with the Palestinians unless peace talks can be renewed within months despite a Hamas-led government.
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