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Saturday, December 2, 2006

PLO Executive Committee calls on Haniyeh to resign as PM

Last update - 19:22 01/12/2006

PLO Executive Committee calls on Haniyeh to resign as PM
By Haaretz Staff and News Agencies

The Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee on Friday called on
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas to resign due to stalled
talks on the formation of a Palestinian unity government.

"The executive committee asks Haniyeh to resign to pave the way for the
formation of a new government," committee member Samir Ghosheh told Reuters.

Abbas announced at a press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice on Thursday that the talks with Hamas on the establishment of a
government of national unity have reached a "dead end."

Abbas told top PLO officials during a special session in Ramallah on Friday
that Hamas was to blame for the talks' failure. "[Chairman] Abbas stressed
that there would be no dialogue with Hamas," said Tayseer Khaled, a member of
the PLO's executive committee. "He said the dialogue ended and that Hamas
bears the responsibility for the failure of the talks."

Abbas, who is also head of the PLO, headed to the Gaza Strip to update
Palestinian faction leaders on the session.

Meanwhile Haniyeh, speaking in Cairo, denied that the talks have failed. Hamas
has dismissed Abbas' declaration as a pressure tactic in the negotiations on
forming a national unity government.

With the talks deadlocked, Abbas plans to address the Palestinian people "very
soon" to discuss his next move, a top Abbas aide, Saeb Erekat, said.

Abbas has formed a committee that will meet Saturday to look at his options
for the future, Erekat said.

Abbas has two options - fire the Hamas-led government or hold a referendum on
whether to call early elections. If he dismisses the Hamas ministers, a new
government he appoints would be blocked in the Hamas-dominated parliament,
leading to a constitutional crisis that could also force elections.

Recent polls have shown that Abbas' Fatah Party would not have enough support
to oust Hamas in new elections.

The PA chairman recently proposed a compromise formula for uniting the various
Palestinian factions, which also aims to bypass the preconditions of the
international community for lifting sanctions against the Palestinian
Authority. However, his proposal has stalled over disagreements on which
ministerial portfolios would go to each faction.

Abbas said he wants to establish a government that will bring an end to the
siege on the Palestinian people, adding that "as far as I'm concerned, I don't
care who sits in it."

According to the Abbas formula, whose details have been made available to
Israel and the Quartet (the United States, European Union, United Nations and
Russia), Abbas will present the new government to the Palestinian parliament,
as well as basic guidelines to which the ministers will commit. Among these
basic guidelines will be recognition of previous agreements signed between
Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, including ones for disarming
all Palestinian factions.

In his speech at the Palestinian parliament, Abbas is expected to reiterate
the government's commitment to the Oslo Accords, and the Palestinian leaders'
intention to continue their negotiations with Israel because "that is their
strategic, political and realistic choice."

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