06/05/2006, 00.00
PALESTINE
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More blood on the eve of Abbas' ultimatum on the "Prisoners' Plan"

A child and a pregnant woman die in attacks against Hamas and Fatah. Hamas must agree before midnight to discuss the prisoners' proposal which provides for the creation of a Palestinian state and the implicit recognition of Israel and an end to attacks.

Ramallah (AsiaNews/Agencies) – More blood in the hours leading up to tonight's midnight deadline for the ultimatum set by Palestinian National Authority (PNA) President Mahmoud Abbas on a proposal, called the Prisoners' Plan, agreed to by senior figures from Hamas, Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Islamic Jihad currently in Israeli jails.

Last week, Mr Abbas gave Hamas 10 days to adopt the 18-point programme or he would instigate a referendum within 40 days. The programme includes the creation of a government of national unity as a prelude to the creation of a Palestinian state within the pre-June 5, 1967, borders, thus implicitly recognising the state of Israel. It also calls for an end to attacks.

In the meantime, tensions between Hamas and Fatah militants continue. Today a large explosion ripped through a house in Jebaliya, a northern Gaza town, killed one man wounding two other people, including an 8-year-old child.

Last night, five Palestinians, including a pregnant woman, died in the Gaza Strip when armed men opened fire against a car transporting a leader of Hamas' military wing, Mohammed al Ghalban, his wife Reem, and brother Mohammed. The 24-year-old pregnant woman died whilst the two men were wounded. One died later in hospital. The other three dead were passer-bys caught in the shootout.

A similar incident occurred in the Shatti refugee camp where Hamas security forces clashed with Fatah militants who were demonstrating for the killing of one of their members last Thursday.

Finally, in the southern Gaza Strip a Fatah security officer was abducted and then dumped near a hospital, with serious gunshot wounds.

Azam al-Ahmed, head of the Fatah caucus in the Palestinian Legislative Council, said Sunday in Ramallah that he hoped for a positive response from Hamas, but if none came, he would call a meeting of the PLO executive council to approve a presidential decree in which Abbas will announce a date for a national referendum. So far Hamas has refused to agree.

"The local basic law and the advice which we got from experts in international law say that referendums are not permitted on Palestinian land," Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya said, adding that from a political point of view the proposal needs a more thorough examination.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad have rejected some of the points in the Prisoners' Plan, especially the legitimacy of existing international agreement and the implicit recognition of Israel.

For Hamas the referendum constitutes an attempt by Fatah to overturn last January's election results that gave victory to the fundamentalist party.

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