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Hamas Rejects Abbas' Call for Referendum
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The Palestinian ruling Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) rejected on Saturday afternoon President Mahmoud Abbas' decree that called for holding a popular referendum on July 26.

The movement that has a majority in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and leads the government said that it rejects the decree of Abbas and vowed to work hard in order not to pass it. A senior Hamas lawmaker denounced that Abbas is trying to stage a coup against the government.

"This is a coup against the choice of the Palestinian people who gave Hamas a landslide victory over Abbas's Fatah faction in January parliamentary elections," said Mushir al-Masri. He vowed that Hamas would "try to prevent this referendum from taking place by all legal means.

"Whoever convenes this referendum must assume all the serious consequences that ensue." Earlier in the day, Abbas issued a presidential decree and declared referendum on July 26.

In the decree, Abbas called on the Palestinian people, residents of the Gaza Strip, West Bank and east Jerusalem, to participate in a popular referendum on Wednesday, or July 26, 2006. The referendum will ask the Palestinian people to say if they accept the prisoners' document of national accordance or not.

The voting will be from 7:00 AM (0400 GMT) up to 9:00 PM (1800 GMT). In a televised speech to the Palestinian people, Abbas said that the dialogue for the dialogue is a waste of time, "the thing that urged us to call for a popular referendum."

"The reason that urged me to decide to call for a referendum is that the national and Islamic factions failed to agree on the document of national accordance issued by the prisoners in Israeli jails," said Abbas.

Abbas stressed in his speech that the Palestinian basic law allows the president to call for a referendum, adding "after the dialogue failed to agree on the document, therefore I decided to call for a referendum."

Abbas opened on May 25 a national dialogue by asking Palestinian factions to accept and adopt within ten days the Document of National Accordance filed by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, or he would put the proposal to a referendum within 40 days.

The prisoners' document calls for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the territories that were occupied by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

The document contradicts with both the now ruling Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and Islamic Jihad's charters that call for the destruction of Israel. They have refused to accept the document.

(Xinhua News Agency June 11, 2006)

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