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Abbas rejects extension of PLC, presidential terms

May 21, 2009 5:51 P.M. (Updated: May 21, 2009 5:51 P.M.)
Ramallah - Ma'an - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday that he rejected a behind-the-scenes proposal to extend his term and that of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).

He said in a speech at opening of the Fifth Conference of the General Union of the Palestinian Women in Ramallah, "I would say it openly that it was proposed to us to extend the dialogue . We will not accept an extension of the presidency, or of the PLC. We should seek the people's judgment to go the ballot boxes."

Abbas' Fatah movement and the rival Hamas faction, which has an elected majority in the PLC and also physical control of the Gaza Strip, currently have no concrete plans in place for new elections, which the two agreed should take place in January 2010, when the PLC's term expires.

Abbas, whose term as Palestinian Authority president expired in January, was controversially appointed by the Palestine Liberation Organization to continue serving in his capacity of president of the self-declared but still unrealized State of Palestine.

During his speech on Thursday Abbas also accused Hamas of obstructing the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip by stalling in the unity negotiations with Fatah.

He said, "Gaza has been waiting for five months, where 120,000 are homeless while the funds are available for the construction, what kind of conscience would make us wait for one moment more. we are supporting dialogue and will continue with it but until when the people will be waiting for the outcomes of this dialogue?"

"We say that we want construction to be carried out through international organizations, so go ahead, let them in through these organizations, the important issue they will begin reconstruction and the people will be living in homes not tents," he said.

The president however stressed the importance of ending the Hanas-Fatah fight, but said that a proposed unity government must have international recognition, as his West Bank administration does.

He rejected claims that Hamas was asked in the talks to recognize Israel.

He also criticized Hamas security forces, who prevented dozens of delegates to the women's conference from leaving Gaza on Tuesday.

"It was expected that Israel would do such an act," he said of the travel ban, "but rather it was the de facto [government] forces that did it."

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