GAZA, (Reuters) – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday he was considering options open to him afterthe failure of talks with the governing Hamas faction over creating a unity government.
Abbas said this week he had given up on months of efforts to form a Hamas-Fatah unity government to try to ease the plight of the Palestinian people after international sanctions were imposed on the Hamas-led administration.
Abbas’s aides said he could either dismiss the government and form an emergency administration or call a referendum on the holding of early elections.
Abbas refused to give details of what he might do but blamed Islamist group Hamas for the breakup of talks, although he did not use the group’s name. “It is known why the dialogue to form a government has stopped, therefore I do not want to get in to the details and the options which are in front of us and which we are studying seriously,” Abbas said.
Palestinians hope the formation of a new administration without Hamas at its heart will lead to the lifting of foreign sanctions imposed after Hamas came to power, which have plunged most people deeper into poverty and helped cripple the economy.
Hamas won Palestinian elections last January, trouncing Fatah, but has been unable to govern effectively because its refusal to recognise Israel has led to an aid cut-off by Western powers and a freeze on the handover of tax receipts by Israel.
Abbas was speaking after discussing the situation at separate meetings with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and the foreign ministers of Austria and Germany.
Hamas is sworn to Israel’s destruction and is labelled a terrorist group by the United States, European Union and Israel.
Western powers and Israel have said they will lift the sanctions only if the Hamas government recognises Israel’s right to exist, renounces violence and abides by peace treaties.
Solana said by refusing to accept the terms set by the international community for a viable unity government, Hamas had wasted a chance to have the sanctions lifted. “Some conditions have to be met in order to have full cooperation with the international community and the president (Abbas) has made tremendous efforts … It has been impossible for the moment to get these conditions accepted (by the Hamas government) and therefore the situation (sanctions) will continue, but everybody has to know who is responsible … It is not the president,” Solana said.
Hamas earlier dismissed a call for the resignation of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh by the Palestine Liberation Organisation, a body headed by Abbas and dominated by Fatah. “Hamas rejects the statement of the PLO Executive Committee which is a call for a coup against the legitimate Palestinian government,” Hamas official Ismail Rudwan said.