Palestinian Authority officials said on Thursday at night that Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, will hold a referendum on a statehood proposal on July 31.
The officials, close to Abbas, added that Abbas will officials issue a decree on Saturday to formally announce the referendum date.
The referendum will refer to the detainees’ document, drafted by Palestinians prisoners in Israel prisons and detention facilities, which implicitly recognizes Israel by calling for a Palestinian state on all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the east of Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day war.
Earlier this week, Abbas initiated talks with the Hamas leadership, and after the movement refused to accept the document he offered them a few more days to reconsider their position. Hamas enjoys a vast majority in the Palestinian Legislative Council.
Also, one of the officials at the Palestinian Authority said that all of the Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the East of Jerusalem, will be invited “to take part in a referendum on the basis of the prisoners’ document on Monday, July 31”.
“The referendum would ask the Palestinians one question; “Do you agree with the document or not?”, he added.
The referendum could be seen as a support test for Hamas, and a confidence vote on its government which is boycotted by the United States, European Union and Israel. The EU position has not been as hardline as the US, and both the EU and Russia urged Washington to soften its approach.
Abbas had set a Tuesday deadline for Hamas to recognize the document and extended the period in an attempt to reach a solution without resorting to a referendum.
Yet, Israel rejects the manifesto and insists on keeping its settlement blocks in the occupied West Bank, and rejects any talks on Jerusalem and the right of return of the Palestinian refugees.
The siege enforced over the Palestinian territories has created a humanitarian crisis due the fund cutoff, Palestinian hospitals are lacking basic medical needs, while the Palestinian employees have not been paid since several months.
Abbas appealed to the international community to provide funds to pay salaries. “A quarter of the Palestinians rely on the public sector salaries, and failure to pay these salaries could jeopardize the very foundation of the institutions of the Palestinian Authority and the future Palestinian state”.
Also, Abbas added that, besides the humanitarian crises, the general deterioration of the economic situation, and the inability to pay salaries, could destabilize the political and security situation.