Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, has given the Hamas government until the end of the week to accept a manifesto drafted by senior Palestinian detainees, implicitly recognizing Israel, or face a referendum on the issue.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior officials of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) said that Abbas will hold a news conference to announce the referendum and its process.
Abed Rabbo added that the PLO has approved this move and that Hamas has until the end of the week to change its position and accept the detainees’ document that calls for the recognition of Israel in exchange of establishing a Palestinian independent state within the borders of 1967.
"We, of the PLO Executive Committee, have approved his move and therefore Hamas has until the end of the week to change its position and accept the … document."
The detainees document was drafted by senior detainees, including the jailed Fateh leader, Marwan Barghouthi and several senior Hamas detainees.
Abbas had set a deadline for Hamas to accept the manifesto on Palestinian statehood by Tuesday. But the extension does not mean that his determination to go ahead with a vote has lessened.
The referendum, as Abbas is very well aware, could also be seen as a confidence vote for the Hamas-led Palestinian government which is boycotted by Israel, the European Union and the United States.
Rawhi Fattouh, a PLO executive committee member member said on Tuesday that should Hamas accepts the document, there will be no need to referendum.
“The referendum is not our aim”, Fattouh stated, “It is a way to break the isolation and siege imposed over the Palestinian people”.
Meanwhile, a poll conducted and released by Bir Zeit University, near Ramallah, indicated that 77% of the Palestinians will vote for the detainees’ document, and that the electoral vote for Hamas has fallen by 13%.
Hamas is still challenging the authority of Abbas to call for a referendum under the constitution, and renewed his calls for more talks between the Palestinian factions.
Hamas media spokesperson, Sami Abu Zuhri, earlier called the referendum a "manoeuvre" to undermine the legitimacy of the Hamas-led government.
Abbas’s blueprint for referendum calls for a national unity government, an end to attacks in Israel and the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel on land it occupied in 1967, including the Arab east Jerusalem.
Israel does not consider the east of Jerusalem as part of the occupied territories since 1967 and claims the “undivided Jerusalem as its eternal capital”. Israel also refuses to withdraw from all of the occupied territories since 1967, and wants to retain large settlements blocks there.
Meanwhile, Yemen has offered to host a meeting between Fateh and Hamas to end the deadlock between the two rival parties.
Mousa Abu Marzouq, Hamas’s deputy politburo chief, welcomed the invitation of the Yemeni President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who supports a negotiated peace deal in the Middle East.