Palestinian national dialogue delayed
Palestinian factions delayed talks on Saturday on a plan calling for a Palestinian state alongside Israel, as Hamas rejected a 10-day deadline set by president Mahmoud Abbas. Talks on the plan, drafted by senior Palestinian leaders jailed in Israel, had been expected to start on Saturday, but Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri said the leaders were still discussing a venue.
He said the meeting had not started because "formation of the (negotiating) committee has not been finalized yet". "Some factions want the dialogue to be held in Gaza because their representatives are there," Abu-Zuhri added.
The plan implicitly recognizes Israel while Hamas' charter calls for the Jewish state's destruction.
On Friday, Hamas' leadership in Damascus rejected Abbas' threat to call a referendum on the plan. "Hamas will not submit to blackmail and will not compromise its principles," Mohammad Nazzal, a member of the movement's exiled leadership said Friday.
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh vowed the Hamas-led cabinet would make no concessions despite Abbas' threat. "We will not make political concessions," Haniyeh told worshippers at a Gaza mosque in response to Abbas' ultimatum. "Even if they besiege us from all directions, they should not dream that we will make any political concessions," added Haniyeh.