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Palestinian National Dialogue Frozen, Crisis Resurfaces
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas decided to freeze talks with the Hamas-led government on forming a national unity one, in a sign of an intensifying power struggle between Islamic militants and moderate President Mahmoud Abbas.

The decision was followed by angry exchanges of blames between Hamas and leaders of Abbas' Fatah Party.

The ruling Hamas movement on Saturday slammed Abbas and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)'s decision to stop talks on forming a unity government.

"We are sorry for this unjust decision which was a shock for every Palestinian waiting the birth of national unity government, "Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoom told Voice of Palestine radio.

Abbas' decision came shortly after his official declaration on Thursday that the dialogue to form a new government reached an impasse in a joint news conference held in Jericho on Thursday following a meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The following day, Abbas chaired a PLO Executive Committee meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah and decided to freeze the dialogue with Hamas.

"The decision to freeze the dialogue with Hamas was made, after it had been approved that Hamas leaders are not interested in forming a national unity government," said PLO member Yasser Abed Rabbo.

Meanwhile, Abed Rabbo said that "there is a real crisis of governing in the Palestinian National Authority, where our people suffer from the effects of this crisis, and we must rescue them from this suffering."

"One of the proposed options to end this crisis is to go for early legislative and presidential elections, or go for a popular referendum or breakdown the current government and form a new one, " said Abed Rabbo.

The sources also said that Abbas instructed the PLO Executive Committee meeting to form a legal committee, which includes experts in laws, to study the constitutional sides of any plan he would decide that doesn't contradict with the Palestinian basic law.

Meanwhile, Abbas' media advisor Nabil Amer said after reviewing the major obstacles facing the success of the dialogue that so far not much progress had been achieved.

"The two major obstacles are: the distribution of the new government portfolios and the political program," Amer said, adding that "therefore I can't say that there has been any serious progress achieved in these two basic issues."

The PLO said talks can be resumed only when Prime Minister Ismail Haneya of Hamas resigns. The PLO embodies all political factions except the Islamic movements of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad (Holy War).

Following Abbas' decision to freeze the national unity dialogue, senior Islamic Hamas leader in Gaza Nizar Rayyan called on President Abbas "to immediately get back to the negotiations table " while denying that the talks dead-ended.

"They (Fatah leaders) say that talks had reached to a dead end, but we (in Hamas) say that the road is still open. Let us get back to the negotiation table in order to form a national unity government," said Rayyan.

Palestinian observers warned of a renewal of an internal fighting between Fatah and Hamas supporters, especially in Gaza Strip, where Hamas leaders had vowed to go for a very tough reaction if Abbas breaks down their government.

Hazem Abu Shanab, a Palestinian political analyst even went so far as saying that a national unity government was not the solution to the current crisis because of the gap between the two movements.

"I believe that differences between the two movements or between Abbas and the leaders of the Hamas-led government are huge. If they keep going deep into the details, they would never form a national unity government," said Abu Shanab.

He added that the best solution to end the crisis "is to form a temporary independent government, to end the Palestinian economic and daily living difficulties, and then to go for early presidential and legislative elections."

(Xinhua News Agency December 4, 2006)

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