An Egyptian proposal to insue unity between President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction and Hamas calls for a delay of presidential and legislative elections due in January, Palestinian officials said on Thursday.
Officials from the two groups said Egypt suggested elections be held in the first half of 2010 to give it more time to secure a power-sharing deal between Fatah, which governs the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers.
Legislative and parliamentary elections are slated for Jan. 25 but it remains unclear how they could take place with the Palestinian population split in two territories run by rival administrations that do not recognise one another.
"Egypt believes Abbas will not hold the elections as long as Gaza remains politically separated from the West Bank. Holding the elections will be hard and will mean divisions may last years," said an independent legislator, declining to be named.
Egypt has been trying to mediate a unity deal between Hamas and Fatah.
The Egyptian proposal also stipulates that most Hamas political activists jailed by Fatah-led forces in the West Bank and Fatah men held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip would be released after a deal is reached. Hamas wants its men freed prior to an accord.
A Fatah official said Abbas would convene a meeting of the Fatah-dominated Palestine Liberation Organisation's executive committee to discuss Egypt's proposal.
"The most dangerous issue in (Egypt's proposal) is the elections and the possibility of postponing them," the official said, adding Fatah was opposed in principle to delaying the ballot.
Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas official, said it had an understanding with Cairo "that the elections should not be held without an (unity) agreement and that they should not be held in one Palestinian territory alone".
A delegation of Hamas leaders, led by Khalid Mash'al, are currently in Sudan meeting with officials in consultations intended to lay the groundwork for another round of unity talks in October.
Last Mod: 11 Eylül 2009, 10:22