Hours after announcing that he would hold a referendum on the Palestinian ‘National Unity’ document, President Mahmoud Abbas received Prime Minister Ismael Haniyya to discuss the possibility of avoiding a popular vote on the referendum.  If the two major Palestinian parties, Hamas and Fateh, are able to come to an agreement on the document, the referendum, set for July 25th, could be called off.

Following the meeting, the President’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rdaina said the President emphasised that the general referendum will take place on July 26, if the National Dialogue could not reach an agreement on the Unity document before that date.

Abu Rdaina said the President thoroughly discussed the importance of the referendum and the document as a way out of the current internal crisis — a crisis, he emphasized, that was brought on by external factors: the Israeli military escalation and the international economic siege.

Earlier, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyya told reporters that he will resume the discussion with the President tomorrow, saying that his government is not in favor of the idea of the referendum. He added that the alternative is a serious national dialogue based on the document.

Israeli officials also have objected to the plan because it endorses the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees to come back to properties stolen by Israeli in what is now Israel and endorses attacks on Israeli invaders in sovereign Palestinian territory.