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Abbas attempts a political coup on behalf of Washington
Mahmoud Abbas, the Fatah president of the Palestinian Authority, has announced that he will dissolve the recently elected parliament and call new presidential and parliamentary elections. Abbas aide Yasser Abed Rabbo told Associated Press that the president would set the date within a week, and that new elections would be held within three months.
The move is an unconstitutional attempt to unseat the Hamas-led government that has been engineered by the United States and Israel. It threatens to precipitate a full-scale civil war. Washington and Jerusalem also have the backing of European powers and are being aided and abetted by the Arab regimes Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and the Gulf States.
The move by Abbas is the product of consultation with the Bush administration. Washington welcomed the announcement of fresh elections, saying that it hoped they would help end violence in the region. Britain and Spain also welcomed the call. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was in Cairo as part of a Middle East tour, urged other governments to back Abbas. Miri Eisin, a spokeswoman for the Israeli government, said that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert “respects Abu Mazen and hopes that he will have the capability to assert his leadership over all of the Palestinian people.”
Abbas echoed the position of the US and European Union in blaming the economic and political crisis created by Western sanctions on the refusal of Hamas to recognise Israel or participate in a government that would do so. The best solution, he said, would be to form a national unity government that would win the support of the Quartet (US, the European Union, United Nations and Russia) and enable the resumption of economic aid to Palestine. But months of talks between Hamas and Fatah have collapsed.
Hamas is vehemently opposed to new elections, having won a four-year term of office only last January with a landslide victory. It denounced the decision, calling it a coup against the Palestinian government and the will of the Palestinian people. Ahmed Yousef, an adviser to Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, said the call for elections was a recipe for violence. “I think this will lead to bloodshed because this is something against the constitution.”
“Abu Mazen is not part of the solution anymore. He is part of the problem now,” he continued.
Several Palestinian factions based in the Syrian capital, Damascus, and including Hamas’s leadership in exile, also rejected early elections. “Any step outside the context of the laws is rejected by us all and this is not just the position of Hamas,” said Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine supported the Hamas stance. Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shallah, who met with Mashaal in Damascus, urged Hamas and Fatah to reach an agreement, calling Abbas’s decision “lawless.”