Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will go ahead with preparation for the referendum if Hamas failed to back a document that implies recognition of Israel by the weekend, a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official said on Wednesday.
"President Abbas has informed the PLO leadership that he is going to prepare for the referendum by the end of the week," said Yasser Abed Rabbo, member of the PLO executive committee. "We are giving enough time, about three days, for our brothers in Hamas to reconsider their position."
Abbas and the PLO executive committee decided Tuesday to extend the 10-day deadline for accepting the so-called prisoners' initiative until Friday, the Moslem weekend.
On May 25, Abbas opened a national dialogue by giving Palestinian factions ten days until June 5 to accept the initiative or he would put the proposal to a referendum within 40 days.
Hamas, which remains committed to the destruction of Israel, has so far refused to accept the document drawn up by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails last month, which called for, among other things, the establishment of a Palestinian state on territories Israel occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.
Rabbo said that "the dialogue has basis and it would end soon" without more delay.
He criticized Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mash'al for accepting the Yemeni President proposal of holding the national dialogue in Yemen.
"This is an indication that they (Hamas) wants the dialogue to be open without any time restriction," Rabbo told Voice of Palestine radio, adding that the ultimatum to Hamas prevented dialogue from being convened for dialogue.
Rabbo said the referendum was needed to remove the pretext for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to carry out his unilateral plan to set Israel's final borders.
Olmert has said he is going to implement his plan if there is no Palestinian peace partner.
Israel has boycotted Hamas-led government for refusal to meet international demand to renounce violence, recognize Israel's right to exist and abide by signed accords with Israel.