Abbas says elections decree irrevocable 24Oct09 October 25, 2009

Ma’an News Agency -  24 October 2009

76330Facing criticism from the Hamas movement and others, President Mahmoud Abbas vowed on Saturday that elections would be held as scheduled.

“The decision is irrevocable,” he said, speaking in Ramallah at the opening session of the PLO’s central committee.

Abbas issued a presidential decree late Thursday night, setting the date for the next round of Palestinian legislative and presidential elections for 24 January 2010. Hamas wants the date moved back six months.

“This decision came after conciliation efforts failed and Hamas foot-dragging,” he explained, slamming the Islamic movement for rejecting “Egypt’s proposal to end the division constitutionally.”

But the president vowed to nevertheless continue reconciliation efforts.

Abbas also said he hoped to restart peace talks with Israel, and confirmed reports that “bilateral American contacts are ongoing, since Israeli and Palestinian parties have failed to narrow the gab between their stances on resuming these negotiations.”

In any case, the president reiterated his rejection of certain “Israeli proposals,” including a suggestion that a Palestinian state be declared with temporary borders. Abbas reiterated his main demand, that Israel roll back settlement activities in the Palestinian territories.

“This isn’t a Palestinian precondition, rather an Israeli commitment to the Road Map peace plan,” he noted.

The central council was expected to hold two day sessions on a number of issues, including reconciliation and elections, as well as Richard Goldstone’s report on the Gaza assault, what the council termed Israeli violations in East Jerusalem, and reforms within the PLO, itself.

Saturday’s meeting was entitled, “Jerusalem is the capital of the independent Palestinian state.”

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