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Abbas: Elections in interest of unity

Feb. 14, 2011 6:35 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 15, 2011 11:41 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday that he called for presidential and legislative elections in the interest of national unity.

Hamas has refused to participate in the elections, saying Abbas lacked the legitimacy to declare a vote.

"Elections should be held in accordance with Palestinian national consensus, the result of a reconciliation agreement, not as a step taken by the one party which controls every Palestinian issue," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said.

Speaking in Ramallah at an event to commemorate Prophet Muhammad's birthday, Abbas said national unity was a prerequisite to Palestinian statehood.

"A Palestinian state can't be established on one part of the homeland," he said.

Abbas added there could be no Palestinian state without Jerusalem as its capital. Occupation and settlement construction must end, and a just solution must be reached for refugees in order to achieve peace, he said.

The president said negotiations would not resume until Israel stopped building settlements on Palestinian land, and the PA would not accept a state with temporary borders.

"There is consensus in the whole world that the occupied territories include the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Arab part of Jerusalem, the Jordan River and Dead Sea basin and the no man’s land. Occupation must completely withdraw from these territories which the whole world, including the US, agreed to," Abbas said.

He added that negotiations must be based on clear principles and references recognized by all sides.

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