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Abbas’s Gamble

Khaled Amayreh writes in Al-Ahram:

As the war of words between Hamas and Fatah continues, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas seems determined to organise presidential and legislative elections in the occupied territories, with or without Hamas’s participation.

Last week, Abbas succeeded in convening the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Central Council in Ramallah in an obvious effort to get the council to endorse his recent measures against Hamas following the latter’s takeover of Gaza 14 June.

The unelected (and ageing) council, which acts as a kind of PLO politburo, endorsed the anti-Hamas steps, including the dismissal of the Hamas-led government, the appointment of the Salam Fayyad government in Ramallah, as well as Abbas’s call for early general elections. However, it was obvious that the council’s recommendations were less than decisive, which may reflect a certain hope on the part of councillors that rapprochement between Hamas and Fatah remains possible.

But Abbas, at least ostensibly, seemed in no mood to even entertain the idea of a modus vivendi with Hamas, at least in the foreseeable future. In his speech before the council, Abbas employed vitriolic phraseology against Hamas, referring to the, “criminal and bloody coup-mongers who rose up against Palestinian legitimacy.”

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