Hamas rebuffs PLO's decision to hold elections by September

Hamas rebuffs PLO's decision to hold elections by September

The Islamic Hamas movement rebuffed Saturday a decision made by Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee to hold the presidential and parliamentary elections all over the Palestinian territories by September, Xinhua reported.

Sami Abu Zuhri, the Gaza-based Hamas spokesman, told Xinhua that the movement rejects the call to hold the elections "before ending the current split between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, " adding that "Hamas is still sticking to the principle of holding the elections."

"The call of Palestine Liberation Organization is illegal and the question of the elections is a national question. It should be held inside and outside the Palestinian territories, and this is completely clear in the agreement we signed in Cairo in 2005," Abu Zuhri said.

Earlier on Saturday, a meeting of the PLO executive committee, which was convened in Ramallah and chaired by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, decided to hold the presidential and parliamentary elections by September all over the Palestinian territories.

"The aim of holding the elections by September this year is to try to get out of the current internal Palestinian impasse and let the people say their word," Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO executive committee, told West Bank-based television station " Wattan" at the end of the meeting.

Ashrawi said the decision "is an official invitation to all Palestinian factions and powers to join the elections," adding that there are efforts to convince the Islamic Hamas movement to join the polls.

However, Abu Zuhri said the PLO is not representing all the Palestinians anymore.

Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip by force in June 2007, routed Abbas' security forces and cracked down on his Fatah party. Abbas and his Palestinian National Authority (PNA) kept their control in the West Bank.

Palestinian observers said Abbas and the PLO decided to go for the elections after it became obvious that Hamas won't sign on the reconciliation pact drafted by Egypt in 2009. After the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Friday, doubts over the pact came into existence.

Meanwhile, the PLO executive committee said in an official statement that "keeping Egypt as a key player in the region is for the interest of the Palestinians and the neighboring people."

"Egypt is a deep-rooted country and a genuine partner for the Palestinian people in their struggle to reach freedom and independence," said Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member of the committee. "We don't have any doubt that Egypt will remain a main supporter to the Palestinian people."

Abed Rabbo also revealed that Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, submitted a resignation to Abbas in Ramallah Saturday.

"The resignation's request will be studied by President Abbas," Abed Rabbo said.

Well-informed sources at Erekat's office, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed to Xinhua Saturday that Erekat decided to resign.

"It was made after the Palestine Papers were leaked by the Qatari al-Jazeera satellite news channel last months," said the sources, adding that the Palestinians have formed a committee to investigate how the documents were leaked from the negotiator's office and reached al-Jazeera channel.

"If it is approved that the documents were leaked from the negotiations department of the PLO, I will be fully responsible for it. It will be a crime that I will be fully responsible for it, " Erekat said earlier.

Hamas said Erekat's resignation "is an evidence of his involvement in the scandal."

"Erekat's resignation is a proof that he is involved in what had been revealed. The papers that were unveiled showed the conspiracy of how Erekat and the negotiators were willing to annul the legitimate rights of the Palestinians," Fawzi Barhoom, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, told Xinhua.

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