Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas has planned to hold a referendum on July 31 on a national unity document drawn up by Palestinians in Israeli jails, his aides said Thursday.
The officials close to Abbas said the Palestinian president will issue a decree on Saturday to formally announce the referendum date.
Abbas is to sign the decree setting July 31 for the referendum on Saturday, which means the referendum will be held 50 days later, his spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina confirmed to the press.
Abbas opened on May 25 a national dialogue by asking Palestinian factions to accept and adopt within ten days the Document of National Accordance filed by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, or he would put the proposal to a referendum within 40 days.
The prisoners' document calls for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the territories that were occupied by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
The document, also known as Prisoners' Document, contradicts with both the now ruling Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and Islamic Jihad's charters that call for the destruction of Israel.
Hamas, which remains committed to the destruction of Israel, has so far refused to accept the document.
On Wednesday, a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official said that Abbas will go ahead with preparation for the referendum if Hamas failed to back a document by the weekend.
"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.