Ramallah (AsiaNews/Agencies) The referendum on the prisoners' document could be held on July 19 if Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had his way. And a recent survey indicates that 77 per cent of Palestinians would approve it.
Though Palestinian news agency AMIN reported the possible day for the vote, the actual date will have to wait until this Friday, the day when President Abbas' extended deadline to Hamas to accept the 'Document on National Reconciliation' expires.
The 18-point document was drafted by leaders from Hamas, Fatah, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Islamic Jihad currently serving time in Israeli jails. It calls for a government of national unity ahead of the creation of a Palestinian state within the pre-June 1967 borders, thus implicitly recognising the state of Israel, as well as for an end to attacks.
The plan, which has been approved by Fatah, was initially rejected by Hamas. Now the Islamist party says that it is prepared to discuss it, but for Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh the gaps between Abbas and his party on the document are too great to be settled in a coupe of days.
If the document should go to a vote, a survey conducted by Ramallah's Birzeit University and released yesterday, shows that 77 per cent of Palestinians would support it.
The poll also indicated a dramatic drop in support for Hamas: 37 per cent of respondents said they would vote for it if parliamentary elections were held today, compared to 50 percent in April. Some 37 percent said they would vote Fatah.
"Before the end of the week, President Abbas will hold a news conference to announce the holding of the referendum and the beginning of the process for carrying it out," said Yasser Abed Rabbo, a PLO Executive Committee member.
Mr Rabbo added that President Abbas wanted to report that talks with Hamas had failed and announce the referendum but Arab leaders and representatives of the Palestinian prisoners were able to persuade him to extend the deadline.