Abbas declares referendum on July 26

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued on Saturday a presidential decree calling for holding a popular referendum on the prisoners' document, also known as document of accordance, on July 26.

Tayeb Abdel Rahim, Chief of Staff of President Mahmoud Abbas read the text of the presidential decree before members of several Palestinian national factions, which was also broadcasted live on the official Palestinian Satellite Television.

Both Abbas and Abdel Rahim sat beside each other, where Abbas had first given a speech to preview why he issued the presidential decree that calls for holding a referendum, and then Abdel Rahim read the text of the decree after Abbas speech.

The presidential decree said that President Abbas, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and President of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) is calling on the Palestinian people, residents of the Gaza Strip, West Bank and east Jerusalem, to participate in a popular referendum on Wednesday, or July 26, 2006.

The referendum will ask the Palestinian people to say if they accept the prisoners' document of national accordance or not and the voting will be from 7:00 am (0400 GMT) up to 9:00 pm (1800 GMT) , said the decree.

Earlier, Abbas said in his televised speech that he reviewed the reason behind calling for the referendum, adding that "the dialogue for the dialogue is a waste of time, the thing that urged us to call for a popular referendum."

"The reason that urged me to decide to call for a referendum is that the national and Islamic factions failed to agree on the document of national accordance issued by the prisoners in Israeli jails," said Abbas.

Abbas stressed that the Palestinian basic law allows the president to call for a referendum. "After the dialogue failed to agree on the document, therefore I decided to call for a referendum."

After Abbas' decree, the ruling Islamic Resistance Movement ( Hamas) announced to reject the July 26 referendum , saying that it rejected the decree of Abbas and vowed to work hard in order not to pass it.

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 contradicts with both the now ruling Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and Islamic Jihad's charters that call for the destruction of Israel. They have refused to accept the document.

Source: Xinhua

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