Abbas casts doubt on promised Palestinian elections
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Elections in the Palestinian Territories looked increaingly unlikely Thursday, with President Mahmud Abbas declaring that they could not take place in the West Bank alone. Hamas made it clear that there would be no vote in the Gaza Strip after the Palestinian Authority announced there would be presidential and general elections before September.
"It would be unacceptable for them to be held only in the West Bank and not in Gaza. Without that it would not be possible to hold them," said Abbas, speaking
Egyptian gas shipments to Israel have been halted after an attack on a pipeline in Sinai. Imports had been halted on 5 February after a pipeline supplying Jordan was attacked. Shipments are slated to begin again later this month.
at a joint press conference with East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta.
Abbas claimed that national unity was his highest priority, and said that calling presidential and legislative elections would help to settle the issue.
Hamas said that he had no authority to call elections since his mandate has run out and said it would not cooperate with a poll unless there is a reconciliation deal between their Islamist movement and Abbas's Hamas.
About 1,000 young Palestinians converged on central Ramallah on Thursday to call for unity between the main two Palestinian factions.
Earlier Thursday, three Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli troops in Al-Waha, near Gaza's border with Israel.
Hamas reported that the men died after they were hit by a tank shell and machine gun fire. Israel confirmed that the men were killed, saying that they were attempting to plant an
explosive device near the fence.
And at the UN the Palestinian Authority refused to a US proposal to withdraw a UN resolution condemning Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory. Washington proposed a non-binding statement settlement construction.
"Instead of a vote on the draft resolution, the Security Council would issue a non-binding statement firmly rejecting settlement activity and criticising Israel's position, particularly its failure to apply the roadmap," said Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, referring to the 2003 peace plan created by the Middle East Quartet.
Al-Maliki said the offer was rejected because the UN Security Council would have issued a non-binding statement condemning the settlements.
The US frequently uses its veto power to stop anti-Israel votes.
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